The legislation the new House GOP majority is taking up in its first full week in power
Washington — With a House speaker elected, members sworn in and the rules for the 118th Congress adopted, the Republican-led House has begun the business of legislating, taking up a flurry of measures that advance the GOP's agenda in the first full week of the new Congress.
The first bills and resolutions considered by the House touch on a number of priorities for Republicans, including abortion, U.S. competition with China and the so-called "weaponization" of the federal government, a nod to the claims from conservatives that former President Donald Trump has been treated unfairly by federal investigators.
While the bills taken up so far have cleared the lower chamber along party lines, the Republican-led House will be the beginning and end of the line for most, if not all, of them. Democrats control 51 seats in the Senate, and 60 votes are needed for measures to advance in the upper chamber. President Biden has also pledged to veto some of the proposals from House Republicans.
Here are the measures the House GOP majority have taken up:
Rescinding new funding for the IRS
After passing its package of rules governing the new Congress, the first bill voted on by the House was Nebraska Rep. Adrian Smith's "Family and Small Business Protection Act."
The bill would rescind $72 billion of the $80 billion for the Internal Revenue Service included in the Inflation Reduction Act, Democrats' tax, health care and climate package, to beef-up tax enforcement and compliance.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that Smith's proposal will raise the deficit by more than $114 billion over the next 10 years.
Despite the projected effect on the deficit, the bill passed 221 to 210 along party lines. One Republican, Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, did not vote.
The bill is dead on arrival given Democrats' control of the Senate and the White House's opposition to the measure.
In a statement of administrative policy, the White House budget office said Mr. Biden would veto the bill if presented with it, arguing it "protects wealthy tax cheats at the expense of honest, middle-class taxpayers."
Establishing a select committee on competition with China
On Tuesday, the House approved a resolution creating a "Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party."
The measure passed with overwhelming bipartisan support: 146 House Democrats — Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi among them — joined Republicans in approving the new committee.
Composed of up to 16 members, the panel is tasked with investigating and submitting policy recommendations "on the status of the Chinese Communist Party's economic, technological, and security progress and its competition with the United States."
Asked about the committee Wednesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration looks forward to the select committee beginning its work and will continue working with congressional Democrats and Republicans on the issue.
"It is a top priority as we talk about outcompeting China," she said.
Establishing a select subcommittee on "weaponization of the federal government"
Unlike the bipartisan support for the resolution creating the select committee on competition with China, a separate measure establishing a select subcommittee "on the Weaponization of the Federal Government" was approved by the House solely with Republican backing.
Effectively tasked with investigating the federal investigators, the panel will be composed of up to 13 lawmakers, including the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio is set to take over the Judiciary Committee.
The subcommittee will examine:
the "expansive role of Article II authority" given to the executive branch to "collect information on or otherwise investigate citizens of the United States, including ongoing criminal investigations;"
how federal agencies "work with, obtain information from, and provide information to the private sector, non-profit entities, or other government agencies to facilitate action against American citizens, including the extent, if any, to which illegal or improper, unconstitutional, or unethical activities were engaged in by the executive branch or private sector against citizens of the United States;"
how federal agencies collect, compile, analyze, use or spread information about U.S. citizens;
The laws, programs and activities of the executive branch as they relate to the collection of information on U.S. citizens and "the sources and methods used for the collection of information on citizens of the United States;"
Other issues related to the violation of citizens' civil liberties.
The measure also authorizes the Judiciary Committee chairman to issue subpoenas to be returned to the select subcommittee.
Creation of the panel comes as Republicans have criticized the FBI and Justice Department for its investigations involving Trump, from the probe into Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential election to the former president's handling of sensitive government documents and the Aug. 8 search at Mar-a-Lago for records Trump brought with him to Florida after leaving the White House.
Condemning attacks on churches, anti-abortion rights facilities and groups
The House approved Wednesday a concurrent resolution "expressing the sense of Congress condemning the recent attacks on pro-life facilities, groups and churches" by a vote of 222 to 209. Three Democrats, Reps. Vicente Gonzales of Texas, Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington, supported the measure, along with all voting Republicans.
Introduced by Rep. Mike Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana, the measure highlights acts of vandalism at pregnancy centers, offices of anti-abortion rights organizations and churches since the May leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. The high court's conservative majority in June ended the constitutional right to an abortion.
Johnson's resolution accuses the Biden administration of failing to take action in response to the attacks on the anti-abortion rights advocates and churches or protect the organizations, and declares that Congress:
condemns recent attacks of vandalism, violence, and destruction against the targeted entities;
"recognizes the sanctity of life and the important role pro-life facilities, groups, and churches play in supporting pregnant women, infants, and families;"
calls on the Biden administration to use "all appropriate law enforcement authorities to uphold public safety and to protect the rights" of these organizations.
Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act
The measure from GOP Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri was introduced in the last Congress, when Democrats were in control, but did not go anywhere. That changed under the new GOP-led House, with the lower chamber voting to pass Wagner's proposal along party lines Wednesday. The final vote was 220 to 210, with one member voting present. One Democrat was among the votes in favor.
The bill requires health care practitioners to provide care to infants who are born alive after an abortion or attempted abortion and ensure the baby is immediately transported and admitted to a hospital.
A person who "intentionally performs or attempts to perform an overt act that kills a child born alive" is subject to punishment for "intentionally killing or attempting to kill a human being," the bill states.
The measure also declares that an infant born alive after an abortion is a legal person and entitled to protections under U.S. laws.
There are existing laws already on the books at the federal and state levels that would protect infants as soon as they're born and likely apply to medical providers who withhold care.
While the measure cleared the House, it is expected to stall in the Democratic-led Senate.
The Senate in 2019 took up a version of the bill from then-GOP Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, but it failed to win the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. Three Democrats, Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Doug Jones of Alabama and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voted with Republicans to advance the measure. Jones is no longer in the Senate.
Prohibiting oil sales from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to China
In what could be the final piece of legislation to be taken up by the House during the first full week of GOP power, the lower chamber is poised to vote Thursday morning on the Protecting America's Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) from China Act.
The proposal from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington bars the Department of Energy from selling oil from the SPR to any entity owned or controlled by China. The measure also requires the Energy Department to ensure any oil sold from the SPR will not be exported to China.
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