Analysis by Energy Workforce President Tim Tarpley
With most of the national news focusing on the federal indictment of President Trump in Florida, less focus has been paid to the increasingly problematic, and potentially quite consequential, situation unfolding in the House of Representatives.
Last week, Speaker Kevin McCarthy was forced to send the House home early when 11 Republican members essentially hijacked the floor and refused to support a rule bill introduced by the Speaker to allow legislation to be considered. Many of this group of objectors come from the same group that originally opposed McCarthy’s speakership at the beginning of this Congress.
The group of 11 have said they took this action based on their concerns that they got rolled over on the debt limit package vote because Speaker McCarthy used Democrat votes to pass the measure over their objections.
Given this impasse, the Speaker really has only two options to move forward. The first is to go to the Democrats and ask for them to give him enough votes to proceed with a bipartisan rule vote. This option would most certainly require him to make major policy concessions to the Democrats and likely further enrage the detractors, so this option appears unlikely at this point.
The second option, which is where we seem to be now, is that he will have to bring the group back into the fold somehow. Meetings were ongoing over the weekend and early this week with a tentative agreement to move forward reached Monday night. On Tuesday the body voted 219-210 on legislation that had been called for by many of the dissenting group. The objectors have indicated they will play ball for now but stand ready to use the tactic again should they feel that their influence is weakening.
Time will tell us how this is settled, however in the short term, the Speaker is faced with a math problem that is not easily solved. He doesn’t have enough Republican votes to move any bills if members revolt again.
Besides the palace intrigue that is interesting to watch, what does this all mean for us and our sector? So far, not much, as for now it appears a cease fire will hold. However, if this standoff reignites and continues for weeks or months, it could quickly become very significant for us.
Should the House become completely deadlocked, chances for a bipartisan permitting reform package may become much more difficult or impossible. Even though some elements of permitting reform were addressed in the debt limit deal, these were only a small part of the package and not nearly all the elements that our sector needs. The ability for the House to quickly introduce and pass a disapproval resolution for a yet-to-be introduced ESG rule by the SEC could also be in jeopardy.
The good news, however, is that even if the House is deadlocked as far as its ability to bring legislation to the floor, their oversight function and committee work can still operate for now. In fact, a number of significant oversight hearings on the President’s power plan are scheduled to occur this week in the House.
Conceptually, it is possible that the rebellion could spill over to committee work as well, however, it doesn’t appear we are to that point yet. It is important that the oversight work in the House continues to serve as a check on the Biden Administration, especially with pending regulations like the methane rule and the potential for a Permian non-attainment designation are outstanding.
Tim Tarpley, Energy Workforce President, analyzes federal policy for the Energy Workforce & Technology Council. Click here to subscribe to the Energy Workforce newsletter, which highlights sector-specific issues, best practices, activities and more.