‘I’m not even a congressman’: House lawmakers and staffers can’t function while speaker fight drags on



– There is no Speaker of the House. The House has no active legislators. There is no House Committee.

At this point, the US House of Representatives has no function.

A three-day Republican standoff over Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s speaker bid meant. None of the 434 elected to the House in November were sworn in. Leaving children and spouses who traveled to Washington to celebrate with elected members. Around the marble building is something, something waiting to happen.

Lawmakers cannot be sworn in until a speaker is elected — the first order of business in the new Congress. — But a band of 20 ultraconservative rebels blocked McCarthy. R-Calif., on 11 consecutive ballots. until the House adjourned at noon Friday. Other business in the House has also been paralyzed. and the rules that before governed the lower house have expired.

The new member-elect was not able to set up their house email. The committee, now controlled by Republicans, has not been able to hire new staff. And lawmakers have lost their security clearances and are barred. from receiving sensitive information or entering the secure briefing room. Known as the SCIF — because they are technically not members.

“I’m not even a congressman. My wife loves it,” quipped incoming Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas.

What has been disrupted? “Meetings, hearings, classified briefings. Everything,” he said.

Lawmakers say the chaotic speaker floor fight is having real-world. Effects invisible to most people watching the drama on television. — from national security concerns to constructive casework.

“I’m a member of the Intelligence Committee. But we can’t get national security briefings or go to SCIF until this is resolved.” said Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas.

Reps. Don Bacon, R-Neb., Mike Gallagher, R-Wis. and other members of the Armed Services Committee said. They had to cancel a meeting. With Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley this week about China. Because they had security clearances. lost

“I was going to have a meeting with him in China, and now he can’t talk to me in a classified state. Because I don’t have a security clearance,” Bacon told reporters Thursday.

McCarthy’s aide Bacon said the ingredients are also suffering. Because elected members aren’t technically lawmakers yet. They can’t contact federal agencies like. The Department of Veterans Affairs or the State Department.

If they have problems with disability benefits or passports.

“Let’s say, for example, you have a VA disability issue — the VA can’t fix it right away,” Bacon said. “When we take the oath, I can do it, but right now we are not allowed. We can call the agencies, but they can’t help us right now. So it hurts elections nationwide.”

Bacon says “the electorate needs to speak” to put pressure on McCarthy’s enemies and turn them over.

The presidential line of succession has also been interrupted. The Speaker is second in office to the President after the Vice President. But with no speaker, Senate President Pro Tempore Patty Murray, D-Wash., is now second in line.

Some members worry that they and their staff members will stop getting paychecks. If the new Republican majority is unable to elect a speaker. Incoming House Rules Committee Chair Tom Cole, R-Okla. Said the members expected to be paid by January 13

“everyone is taken care of at least that long,” he said.

After that, paychecks can dry up until the House elects a speaker and organizes. Cole said the exact details of how this will play out are still unclear.

Asked if he is currently a member of Congress, Cole said his electoral victory was certified by. The state of Oklahoma. “All I know is that no one prevented me from going to the chamber, and I was able to vote every time,” he said.

The most senior Republican on the administration committee is Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga. He also authorized lawmakers to use their members’ representative allowance, or MRA. To pay workers in the short term, he said. Some lawmakers are questioning whether their workers will be covered by health. Care if Republicans pull the plug.

“At least the staff will be able to stay and help,” Loudermilk said in an interview.

As for house-funded health care? “It’s in the air,” he said.

The far-right rebels who refused to vote for McCarthy aren’t sweating the dysfunction. propagated around the world. Some see this as a feature, not a bug.

“Let’s be honest. Most of what Congress does is bad,” Rep. Bob Goode, R-Va., said on Fox News.

“Most of the things we do for the country that we claim to do for the country are bad. These last few days have been perhaps the most fruitful of my first two years in Congress. We should not rush to make bad decisions.”

He said it could take “a few days or even a few weeks” to resolve the impasse.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *