Briefing

What Kevin McCarthy would do as House speaker

A brief summary of the ascendent congressman's leadership ambitions

The House of Representatives has been led by the Democrats since January 2021, but that could change after the 2022 midterms. With a shifting balance of power would also come new leadership in the form of Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the current House minority leader. Here's everything you need to know about McCarthy's immediate ambitions: 

What immediate changes might McCarthy make? 

He would likely start by dismantling Capitol security measures implemented in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, writes National Review senior political correspondent Jim Geraghty at The Washington PostThis includes removing metal detectors installed outside the House chamber (which GOP members have argued delay them unnecessarily), reopening the offices of House members to the public, and scrapping a policy requiring visitors to be escorted by Capitol officials. While Democrats have consistently pushed for more protection for the nation's elected officials, many Republicans maintain these security measures are unnecessary "security theater," Geraghty explains. 

Anything else? 

McCarthy told CNN two days before the midterms that he would prioritize a bill to tackle issues with immigration. "The first thing you'll see is a bill to control the border first," McCarthy said. "You've got to get control over the border. You've had almost 2 million people just this year alone coming across." The southern border was a big topic on the campaign trail, so it's no surprise this appears to be a priority for McCarthy. Specifically, McCarthy has hinted at bringing back the Trump-era "Remain in Mexico" policy that requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their U.S. immigration cases are pending. 

McCarthy has also mentioned he wants to tackle rising crime and the issue of policing in the United States. Specifically, he said the House would provide grants for police recruiting and training, and also examine the way crimes are prosecuted. He also said he wants to make the United States more energy independent, though he has not named any specific legislation to do so. 

Many of the bills put forward in a McCarthy-led House will largely be symbolic, as CNN notes they will be unable to reach the 60-vote threshold required to pass the Senate. Any bill that did pass would be subject to a veto from President Biden. But McCarthy's goal is to offer a preview into the upcoming Republican agenda, and specifically give some insight into what the GOP's campaign message may look like ahead of the 2024 presidential election. 

Does McCarthy support impeaching President Biden? 

The Republican base is champing at the bit for an impeachment trial targeted at President Biden, and many Republicans, including former President Trump himself, have reportedly brought up impeaching Biden as punishment for Trump's own pair of impeachments. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) tweeted in October that "Joe Biden must be impeached." Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) went as far as to introduce articles of impeachment last year.

It's not clear what Biden would be impeached for, and any effort would be unlikely to have the support needed in the Senate to convict the president, and what also remains unclear is whether or not impeachment would have McCarthy's support. When asked whether impeachment would be "on the table," McCarthy dodged: "You know what's on the table, accountability," McCarthy told CNN, adding: "The one thing I've always known about the land of America, it's the rule of law. And we will hold the rule of law, and we won't play politics with it. We'll never use impeachment for political purposes. That doesn't mean if something rises to the occasion it would not be used at any other time, whether it's a Republican or Democrat." 

This show of restraint from McCarthy in backing a potential Biden impeachment may mean that he is not fully onboard with some of his other GOP colleagues who are more closely associated with the party's far-right movement. 

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