Briefing

What will Republicans do with a House majority?

If the GOP takes back the House, here's what to expect for the next congressional term

Republican House leaders have started honing their proposed agenda for the next congressional term, bolstered by polls that increasingly suggest the GOP will take back the chamber following the 2022 midterms. Details remain fluid, but the picture coming into focus is one of aggressively politically motivated congressional investigations, MAGA-influenced goepolitical isolationism, and a continuation of the ongoing conservative culture wars. Here's what America might expect under a Republican House majority. 

Investigations on top of investigations

Republicans have made little secret that a GOP House majority would immediately launch a suite of far-ranging congressional investigations, in no small part retroactively covering the first two years of the Biden administration and likely overwhelming the White House's agenda for the coming two. Speaking with Fox News host Chat Pergram in early November, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) predicted his party would focus in particular on "Afghanistan withdrawal, origins of COVID, & DOJ probes of parents at school board meetings." 

Over the summer, House Republicans on the Foreign Affairs Committee released a scathing report critical of the Biden administration's handling of the troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, foreshadowing the likely investigation ahead under a GOP majority. In October, FAC ranking member Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) requested the State Department preserve all Afghanistan withdrawal-related documents that "may be potentially responsive to a future congressional inquiry, request, investigation, or subpoena," suggesting his plans to lead a committee investigation.  

Republicans have also telegraphed their intent to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, with McCaul vowing consequences for "both the CCP and WHO Director General Tedros [...] for the suffering they have allowed the world to endure." Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, predicted Republicans would also probe "the COVID response, the lockdowns, the decisions that were made in response to COVID." 

Congressional Republicans have also signaled plans to investigate the Justice Department on several fronts, animated in part by former President Donald Trump's ongoing criticisms of the DOJ. In addition to McCarthy's vow to probe the department's probe of disruptive and violent threats to school board meetings, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee have put the Justice Department "on notice" regarding issues including the alleged targeting of conservative journalists, and the FBI's reclamation of classified documents from Trump's Mar a Lago estate. 

As build-up to a potential Republican investigation into the DOJ, the GOP Judiciary members also released a lengthy document consisting largely of previously sent letters to the Biden administration, which they claim reveals "a rampant culture of unaccountability, manipulation, and abuse at the highest level."

Republicans reportedly plan to counteract the ongoing work of the Select Committee investigating the antecedents and events of Jan. 6, 2021 "in order to identify the truth," as one GOP staffer put it to Axios. "When Republicans retake the majority, we will exercise our oversight responsibilities including subpoena authority to review all transcripts and information that the committee has access to," the staffer said.

House Republicans might also work to further investigations into Hunter Biden's business dealings and the contents of his laptop. "This Biden family investigation's only going to ramp up in a Republican majority," Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) told Fox News in October. "There are a lot of questions that Joe Biden is going to have to answer with respect to his son and his brother's influence peddling that's happened over the past decade."  

Ukraine

One of the largest open-ended questions for a Republican House majority is whether it will continue authorizing massive military and financial aid to Ukraine as the country fends off Russia's invasion. Nearly half of Republican voters oppose continued Ukraine aid, with major figures in the party — like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene — voicing varying degrees of criticism for the current policy. "I think Ukraine is very important," McCarthy told CNBC in October. "I support making sure that we move forward to defeat Russia in that program. But there should be no blank check on anything. We are $31 trillion in debt." Rep. McCaul tempered that sentiment further, explaining on Bloomberg TV that there would be "more oversight and accountability" for Ukraine aid under a GOP majority. 

Rolling back the Biden agenda

In September, McCarthy vowed to kick off a Republican majority session in Congress by addressing what's become a significant conservative talking point in recent months: the White House's $80 million boost to the IRS, part of the larger Inflation Reduction Act passed in August. "On our very first bill, we're going to repeal 87,000 IRS agents," McCarthy announced. Republicans will struggle to repeal the massive legislative package entirely, but attempts to delay and undercut varying parts of the measure could stymie its economic, energy, and climate goals significantly.

In a November interview with CNN, however, McCarthy shifted his focus south, telling the network that "the first thing you'll see [under a GOP majority] is a bill to control the border first," as part of the Republican's broader effort to frame the midterms as a referendum on crime and public safety. 

Republicans also plan to address the Biden administration's Defense Department policies, with Indiana Rep. Jim Banks telling Military.com he thinks "it's one of our very top priorities to clean up the mess the administration has made with the excessive and dangerous COVID mandates on our troops at a time where we have historically low recruitment." Banks also previously criticized the Biden administration's student loan forgiveness plan as contributing to low recruitment levels for the DOD. Rep Mike Rogers, poised to chair the Armed Services Committee if Republicans take the House, promised to snuff out what he calls "wokeness in the military." 

Impeachment 

Faced with growing demand from the conservative base and increasingly bellicose rhetoric on the campaign trail, Republicans may soon find themselves unable to escape what had once been a movement constrained within the most extreme wings of the party: impeaching President Joe Biden and members of his Cabinet. In recent months Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has called impeachment a "priority" for Republicans if they regain the majority. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), a member of the GOP House leadership team, has hinted at supporting an impeachment effort, telling the New York Post in October that "anything is on the table."

Biden himself seems to acknowledge the possibility of a looming impeachment battle, telling a rally crowd: "I'm already being told that if they win back the House and the Senate, they're going to impeach me."

But, Biden added, "I don't know what the hell they're going to impeach me for."

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