Back in the summer, a group of conservatives put together a proposal with extensive changes to the rules and processes that govern how Republicans run the House of Representatives. For example, we wanted regular, rank-and-file members to have more power to amend bills on the House floor. We wanted at least three days to read and consider bills before we were asked to vote on them. And we wanted to limit the scope of bills to a single subject, so we wouldn’t be asked to vote on legislative “Christmas trees” passed on a tight deadline. We made those demands because the people we represent have told us time and again that Washington is broken, and we knew they wanted to see a change in the status quo.
What the American people have tuned in to watch this week is a healthy democratic process, working as it was designed to: with members in the same place, engaging in debate, and having face-to-face conversations. Important negotiations often take months or even years in a legislative body. Yet this is the one and only opportunity we have to debate how the House is run every two years, both with the election of a speaker and with the passage of the new House rules.
While some have accused us of acting in our own personal interests, we are standing strong because we believe the United States House of Representatives was designed to be the People’s House where the will of every American would be represented. That is why the selection of a speaker requires the votes of a majority of the House. A majority of the people’s representatives must trust that person to lead us.
Throughout the past few months of negotiation and debate, we have been very clear with Republican leadership that we want changes that empower regular members of Congress, who each represent a district of more than half a million people, to have more meaningful input into how legislation is considered. And some of those procedural changes have been accepted.
We also wanted to restore a 200-year-old measure of accountability to the speaker’s office, which Nancy Pelosi had waived, which allows any member of Congress to move to vacate the speaker’s chair, so that every member can have a voice in representing the will of their constituents. This was only agreed to after 20 Republicans held strong for three days. In fact, it was only after it became clear that Mr. McCarthy was well short of the votes necessary back in November that he began to agree to any changes we proposed.
It is also important to remember that the American people voted for a new Republican majority in the House, albeit a small one, as a check on the Biden administration. As such, Republicans in the majority must have total confidence in our leader to fight President Biden’s agenda. We might have had that confidence in Mr. McCarthy if he had shown as much tenacity in fighting against Democratic policies, and for the average American, over the last two years as he has now desperately shown in losing multiple votes to become speaker this past week.
We already know what a House under Mr. McCarthy’s leadership looks like. He has had 12 years to prove himself a bold and courageous conservative leader who was willing to stand up against the left’s agenda. On the contrary, when Republicans controlled the majority before 2019, he voted time and again with Democrats to pass big spending bills that helped put us more than $31 trillion in debt.
Throughout this process, one thing has become clear: Kevin McCarthy has failed to secure the trust of the entire Republican conference to be the leader who will fight to change the status quo in Washington. It is time for Republicans to move on.
There are many members within our conference who would be well equipped to become speaker, push back against the Biden administration and stand strong for conservative values. These discussions, debates and deliberations are well worth the time it takes to elect a leader who will represent Republicans in America with the boldness our current political moment demands. Even if Kevin McCarthy emerges as speaker in the current round of voting, I intend to work with my fellow conservatives to ensure he lives up to the commitments he made.
I understand the frustrations of Republicans eager to get to work in the majority. But choosing a strong, conservative speaker lays the groundwork needed for the rest of the Congress. Empowering rank and file members to better represent their constituents will only strengthen the work that we do on behalf of the American people, and will put the good of the country ahead of special interests in Washington.
I came to Washington to challenge the status quo, bring transformative change to Congress, and protect the interests of the American people, and I intend to keep that promise. Even in this on-demand society we live in, it is still worth taking the time needed to make a good decision, even if that means a few extra days or weeks to get the best possible speaker.
Bob Good (@RepBobGood), a Republican, represents Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District in the House of Representatives.
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