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The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly approved on Monday the rules under which it will operate during the current term, which include the possibility for a single representative to initiate the process to remove Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House.
McCarthy became Speaker of the House last Friday, after a week of back-to-back votes in which a small group of lawmakers from his own party blocked his appointment.
In order to secure the votes of the members of his party who opposed his nomination, the now-Speaker had to make a series of concessions which included the aforementioned rule to facilitate the process of his own removal.
The package also includes measures to make it easier for ordinary members of his party to introduce amendments to any legislation being debated.
It also allows amendments to budget legislation that would reduce the salary of specific government workers, or certain programs, to a single dollar, which is tantamount to withdrawing funding from them.
This rule, as well as the facility to remove the Speaker of the Lower House, already existed before the Democrats, with Nancy Pelosi at the helm, took control of the body in 2019.
Passage of the package, along party lines, came with the support of 220 Republicans – one voted against and one was absent – and 213 Democrats voting against.
Shortly thereafter, McCarthy’s office issued a statement in which the Republican justified the decision to weaken his position: “Congress has been broken for a long time. For years, a concentration of power in the Speaker of the House has prevented lawmakers from participating in the legislative process.”
For her part, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, who is also President of the Senate, criticized the fact that the first bill that the narrow Republican majority in the lower House plans to pass proposes to withdraw the increase in funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) approved by the previous Congress.
“For decades, some of the wealthiest individuals and corporations in this country have not paid what they owe in taxes,” Harris said, highlighting her administration’s efforts to increase contributions from the highest earners.
The measure proposed by conservative lawmakers would seek to eliminate the increased funding for the IRS that Congress passed last term as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, an ambitious spending package that includes millions of dollars in green funding.
According to the Democrats, devoting more money to the Treasury will reduce fraud and ensure that it is collected in accordance with the law.