House Republicans emerged from their first 100 days struggling to carry out much of their agenda while facing debt limit and spending showdowns that could make or break their ability to hold their majority.
The past few months have tested Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) strategy of ensuring all factions of his conference have a voice in crafting legislation and messaging. His more carrots and fewer sticks approach has helped Republicans pass education and energy measures. They also claimed victory after forcing Biden to accept their rejection of D.C. crime code revision.
Yet the biggest hurdles lie ahead. House leaders have made little headway on their pledge to link raising the debt limit to dramatically reducing federal spending. Despite high-profile trips by GOP members to the southwest border, the party hasn’t coalesced behind a plan to curb illegal immigration and beef up border security.
Republicans are in the midst of a bevy of oversight investigations focused on the administration but lawmakers caution they need to balance probes into Biden’s family ties with issues of broad public concern like the recent closure of several banks and train derailments. Those investigations are only beginning. The leadership’s ability to overcome these fiscal, legislative and oversight challenges will be key if they hope to retain control of the House and expand their narrow majority in 2024.
Republicans, however, are still grappling with managing a narrow majority. McCarthy has attempted to give members more of a say by allowing them to offer more amendments to bills. The perils of that strategy were on display last month when Republicans voted on one of their signature measures (H.R. 5) on parents’ ability to get information on their childrens’ schools. Hardline conservatives initially threatened to vote against the bill for not going far enough. The addition of amendments on transgender students won several members over, but it also led Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), a moderate Republican from a district Biden carried, to oppose the bill.