House Republicans have a majority, the Speaker’s gavel, and a chance to prove they can be even more constructive than Nancy Pelosi was destructive. And Kevin McCarthy has earned this opportunity.
There are several big facts about the 2022 election outcomes that have been obscured by the way the news media covered them. The media has zeroed in on individual races and been ultra-cautious about calling close races.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ astonishing near 20-point margin in Florida is easy to explain. You get the drama of it. But with 435 House races, it is a lot harder to get the sense of drama and history involved.
That is why the media has missed the emergence of Speaker Kevin McCarthy as the biggest single power shift in Washington this cycle.
The Speaker is the only legislative official mentioned in the U.S. Constitution.
The Speaker is also third in line to be president right after the vice president.
A Speaker with at least 218 votes can wield near unlimited power over recognition, scheduling, legislation, and general running the U.S. House.
The shift from Speaker Tom Foley to me in January 1995 was a decisive earthquake, from which the left never fully recovered. That shift led to modernization of the House, welfare reform, telecommunications reform, the largest capital gains tax cut in history, dramatic reductions in regulatory red tape, and the only four consecutive balanced budgets in our lifetime. (It would be unheard of now, but the budget was balanced, and the national debt was paid down, for four straight years.)
None of those things would have happened without the shift in the Speakership from a liberal Democrat to a conservative Republican.
However big the change was from Foley to myself, it will be dramatically bigger when Speaker Nancy Pelosi turns over the gavel to Speaker McCarthy.
The House will go from protecting and covering up government corruption to shining light on federal agencies and protecting the public’s right to know what their government is doing.
The House will move from protecting an incompetent and dishonest Homeland Security Agency to controlling the Southern border, ending illegal immigration, and taking on the cartels and the fentanyl trade – which is killing 300 Americans a day (most of them young).
The House will move from protecting schools that brainwash children with radical values to passing a Parents’ Bill of Rights guaranteeing that parents can know what is happening in their children’s schools.
The steady expansion of federal spending, which is the driver of the crisis in the cost of living, will be replaced by fiscal common sense. The House will root out corruption, eliminate wasteful spending, and bring inflation under control (without the massive unemployment being threatened by the Chairman of the Federal Reserve).
The anti-police, anti-prosecution, pro-criminal Democrats will be replaced with members dedicated to strengthening the police, monitoring district attorneys who refuse to enforce the law, and protecting the innocent rather than criminals.
The list goes on, but I can tell you from personal experience that the transition from a liberal House to a conservative House creates an enormous shift in the balance of power – and in the ability to get things done.
McCarthy’s counsel, Machalagh Carr, captured the realities of having the Speakership when she commented to me, “they don’t make small gavels, medium gavels, and large gavels. They only make one gavel, and it defines the Speakership.”
In January, McCarthy of Bakersfield, California is going to receive that Speaker’s gavel from Pelosi (or, if she retires as I expect, from the new minority leader – whoever that is).
McCarthy has worked long and hard to help elect a House Republican majority.
I joined the House Republicans at their planning session in Florida in the Spring, which led to the Commitment to America. I was invited to join them in briefing the members on the Commitment in September as they prepared to launch it publicly.
You can see how much work and thought has gone into this positive platform. It is a much more thorough document than the Contract with America was. You can see more than 150 policy proposals if you go to CommitmenttoAmerica.com.
Beyond policy development, McCarthy asked me to join him for the last three days of campaigning. We went from Charleston, South Carolina, to Sarasota and Jacksonville, Florida, to McCallum, Texas (6 miles from the Rio Grande), and then ended the campaign with a rally in Virginia Beach, where Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears, and Atty. Gen. Jason Miyares joined us.
In 2020, McCarthy recruited women and minorities. When the so-called experts said House Republicans would lose 25 seats, he managed to pick up 15 (a turnaround of 40 seats from Democrats’ and news media’s expectations).
Since August, Leader McCarthy traveled to 39 states and campaigned with more than 170 congressional candidates. Punchbowl News noted his efforts at fundraising and credited what it called the “McCarthy Machine” with raising $500 million.
As you watch and listen to the various expert analyses of the election results, just remember that power on Capitol Hill has shifted decisively.
Some people will say it isn’t a big enough majority.
In 1994, we had a 30-seat majority, and we changed a lot of things. In 2020, Pelosi had a 222-213 majority (able to lose only 4 votes before being defeated) and she passed trillions in spending and radical proposals.
As my wife Callista, who used to be Chief Clerk of the House Committee on Agriculture said to me today, “a majority is a majority.”
House Republicans have a majority, the Speaker’s gavel, and a chance to prove they can be even more constructive than Pelosi was destructive.
And Speaker McCarthy has earned the opportunity.
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