Three hardline conservatives have been added to the House Rules Committee. It was one of the concessions from Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) that helped him secure the gavel.
This means that the frequent antagonists of leadership have the opportunity to create significant barriers to getting legislation to the House floor.
Hardline Republican Reps. Chip Roy (Texas), Ralph Norman (S.C.), and Thomas Massie (Ky.) now sit on the committee. It sets the terms for legislation to be considered on the House floor.
But the three say that if they use their leverage, it will be to enforce the kind of open-process demands that fueled resistance to McCarthy in the drawn-out Speakership battle.
McCarthy appointed five new members to the panel on top of its four current GOP members.
The Rules Committee is usually stacked with leadership loyalists and advances bills along party-line votes, but the addition of members who have proved willing to break with McCarthy creates the potential for extraordinary disunity.
One of the concessions from McCarthy was to name three House Freedom Caucus or “Freedom Caucus-adjacent” members to the Rules Committee. Massie is not a member of the confrontational conservative group like Roy and Norman but frequently votes with them.
“We just need to make sure that we’re applying the rules, the germaneness rules, the, you know, single-subject rules, and then figure out how that’s all gonna get down to the floor under the right rules. Is it going to be a structured rule, an open rule?” Roy said.
If Democrats are given the four seats Republicans had last Congress, three Republican defections on any given vote could give them a majority.
That would give conservatives an effective veto on what comes to the floor, giving them not only influence on legislation and floor procedure, but leverage to enforce other elements of their agreement with McCarthy.