MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Wednesday, November 23, 2022. Glad to have you with us on today’s issue The world and everything in it. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Time for Wednesday in Washington. Today, the announcement of the GOP agenda for the 118th Congress.
After Republicans regained control of the House, leaders promised major changes. But their majority will be small, and Democrats will retain control of the Senate. So how much can a House led by the GOP achieve and what can we expect?
Marc Clauson joins us now with the answers. He is a professor of history and law at Cedarville University.
REICHARD: Professor, good morning!
MARC CLAUSON, GUEST: Thank you. It’s good to be with you.
REICHARD: Well, Marc, I want to ask you first who will be the leading Republican in the next Congress. GOP lawmakers voted to nominate Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
But he still faces a vote in the full House, and there is speculation there may be enough anti-McCarthy Republicans to deny him the hammer. How do you see this play out?
CLAUSON: Well, I think it’s still highly likely that he’ll be elected speaker. Now it’s true that he has a pretty small margin to work with, and if a few Republicans go or three go and vote against him along with all the Democrats who will undoubtedly vote against him, then he may lose. But I don’t expect that to happen. normally not. And indeed, the nomination itself seems to imply that, at least for me, he will be the next speaker.
REICHARD: So, assuming McCarthy was the next speaker, he promised to remove some controversial Democrats from key committees. What can you tell us about it?
CLAUSON: Well, that actually happens every time the House changes sides. The majority party will decide that they do not want certain people on their committees or certain people as chairmen of their committees, and they have the right to do so under the rules of the House. Now they can’t go on forever. They are still required to have members of both parties as per the rules of the House. But they can still remove members from these committees if they so vote.
REICHARD: Okay, so again, when the Republicans get their majority back in January, their majority will be small. But Republicans have promised an investigation into a wide variety of matters, including the business dealings of the president’s son, Hunter Biden, and alleged corruption within the FBI. What do you expect there?
CLAUSON: Well, I think that’s where the brass tacks come in. I think Republicans have to be very careful in their investigations. If they choose a person or an issue that does not resonate with the American people, it could hurt them in the run-up to the next election. It would also give them a lot of bad publicity. For example, and this may be my opinion on the matter, but they may decide to investigate the issue of Hunter Biden’s laptop. Okay, that’s something to do in the future, but if they did it now, I suspect they’d come under fire from both sides saying, look, you need to focus on more important issues that resonate with the American people: the border crisis, the Department of Justice, energy issues, all that kind of stuff, real issues, instead of getting into Hunter Biden’s personal issues now. If you want to do it later, then maybe later after all other issues are fixed, but not now I’d say.
REICHARD: The Republicans also promised more oversight of the Biden administration’s program in general and a reduction in spending. Tell us what their powers will be in this regard when they regain the majority.
CLAUSON: Well, the main power they have – and this is a key power – is the power of the purse. All spending measures beginning in the House of Representatives can reject any spending measures, making it difficult for any spending that will have to be approved in the next two years. In addition, however, they have a supervisory role. This means that their committees can oversee the various agencies and their activities. But can they really make agencies listen to what they have to say? The answer is no, because the president has direct authority or authority over these agencies. So they don’t do much there. Moreover, I do not think they will be able to achieve much in terms of any legislation of any importance. They may be able to do the usual things like an announcement of the day, a special day, or something like that. They do it all the time. But when it comes to real issues like dealing with the border crisis again, energy issues with the Justice Department and so on, there’s virtually nothing that can be done because the Senate will just say no, even if all House Republicans agreed. So with the Democratic controlled Senate, I think almost all legislation is unacceptable.
REICHARD: During their campaigns, many House Republicans talked about solving problems such as rising crime and securing the southern border. But how much can they really do without the Senate and the White House?
CLAUSON: Like I said, there’s really not much they can do. Now they can withhold money, but they can’t really spend it because even if they approve an spending measure, it has to go to the Senate. So you still have to vote. If the Democrats say no, they could get in the way of the Republicans in the House of Representatives. Now one thing they can do, like a crime. They can make it a very public issue in their committees and subcommittees. And hopefully by doing so, they’ll get enough publicity for the American people to get an idea of what’s really going on. Same with border crisis, same with energy. Now, at this end, you have to be careful because you’ll get the media attention you want. And if the media tends to lean to the left, then the media will not report it at all or will not report it favorably. So even there they can be difficult. So there’s not much they can do. Now they can stop things from doing, but they can’t really do much.
REICHARD: Marc, do you think there will still be strong support for Ukraine in a war with Russia when the Republicans take over the House of Representatives?
CLAUSON: I think so. I haven’t seen much opposition. There was some opposition to the war, but I don’t think you’ll see significant opposition to the war. Now they may want to appropriate less money to Ukraine. It is possible. But even there, I think they will continue to increase the aid they give to Ukraine, within certain limits. I don’t think they will go beyond a certain point to appropriate money or vote for appropriation, but I think they will continue to support Ukraine.
REICHARD: Let’s go to the upper house for a moment and ask a question about the Senate. In the second round of Georgia, there is still one place left to decide. But the Democrats already have 50 seats and, of course, Vice President Kamala Harris has the casting vote.
So what is the significance of this seat in the Georgia Senate? How important is it for Republicans to stand up for it and Democrats to keep it?
CLAUSON: Well, to use an interesting example, the difference is that Joe Manchin only takes one. Of course he’s a Democrat. But he is a Democrat who can throw a fly in the ointment of Democratic political proposals and rights. Which means if he doesn’t like something, he can go with the Republicans and a tie vote won’t work. Interrupting votes will not work. Now again, will it matter if the Senate doesn’t pass it because the House wouldn’t pass it anyway? Probably so. But it still gives the Senate some ability to stop Democrats from doing what they want, even if they can’t get it through the House, they can still stop it in the Senate itself. So that makes a difference. And that made a difference even before the Republicans took over the House, because in several pieces of legislation, Joe Manchin said no, I’m not going to go there. I’m not going with you. And Democrats couldn’t pass laws.
REICHARD: We spoke with Professor Mark Clauson. Professor, thanks a lot!
CLAUSON: Thank you. It’s good to be with you.
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