Immigration, energy, abortion: Scalise announces first legislation for House GOP

House Republicans will focus on IRS funding, energy production, immigration, crime and abortion with their first items of legislative business after they take control of the House next week.

Steve Scalise (R-La.), the incoming House majority leader, announced on Friday a slate of eight bills and three resolutions that he will bring up in the first two weeks of the 118th Congress.

“The American people spoke on November 8th and decided it was time for a new direction. The last two years have been tough on hard-working families as they have grappled with drastic increases in the cost of living, safety concerns with violent crime skyrocketing in our communities, soaring gas and home heating prices, and a worsening crisis at our Southern border,” Scalise said in a letter to colleagues on Friday. “In the 118th Congress, we will work to address these problems by passing bills that will improve the lives of all Americans.”

None of the legislative items appear likely to pass in a Democratic-controlled Senate and signal that Republicans will put a heavy focus on messaging as they control the chamber in a divided Washington for the next two years.

The first bill, as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) revealed in September, will rescind a boost to IRS funding that passed as part of Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act in August. Republicans have repeatedly falsely said the boost will authorize 87,000 new IRS agents, but that estimate includes support staff and non-agent IRS employees and replacements for those who leave over a decade.

Two of the GOP bills concern the country’s management of petroleum and energy production.

One bill would prohibit “non-emergency drawdowns of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve” without a plan to boost energy production on federal lands. Republicans have heavily criticized President Biden for releasing oil from the strategic reserve.

Another bill would restrict the Energy secretary from selling petroleum from the strategic reserve to China.

In two other bills, the House GOP turns its focus to immigration and border issues.

The Border Safety and Security Act would allow the Homeland Security secretary to turn away certain migrants in order to achieve “operational control” at the border. Republicans have repeatedly accused Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of not meeting the legal standard of “operational control” at the border by preventing unlawful entries and contraband.

Another bill would require the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is used during sales of firearms, to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement and local law enforcement if a person in the U.S. illegally attempts to buy a firearm.

Two more of the bills revolve around abortion, an issue that helped define the midterms after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade over the summer. But Republicans are not proposing any kind of national abortion restriction.

They will bring up the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would require care to be given to an infant who survives an abortion procedure. Democrats have argued that a 2002 law already guarantees infants’ legal rights.

Another would permanently codify the Hyde amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortion procedures, and expands the prohibition to bar federal funding for insurance plans that offer elective abortion.

Additionally, Scalise said he will bring up a resolution condemning recent attacks on anti-abortion centers and churches.

The House will also establish a select committee on China, which will formally be called the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party. The select committee has been a longtime priority of McCarthy, and he has announced Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) as his pick to chair the panel. Republicans have expressed optimism about the potential for bipartisan cooperation in that committee on China policy.

Lastly, House Republicans aim to address crime with a bill to require prosecutors to report how many cases they decline to prosecute and other metrics and a resolution to express support for law enforcement and condemn efforts to defund or dismantle such agencies.

The legislative slate comes as Republicans have still not formalized committee assignments or chairs for contested posts and as McCarthy faces opposition that threatens to keep him from becoming Speaker. Republicans have also repeatedly criticized Democrats for not bringing bills to the floor through the regular order of going through committees first.

Scalise addressed matters of regular order and the lag in organizing committees in his letter to colleagues.

“We understand that developing a good process will lead to better legislative outcomes. Returning to work in person, empowering each committee, moving legislation through regular order, encouraging Member input, and allowing adequate time to read legislation will be major priorities of our incoming majority. We are excited to make those principles a reality in the House,” Scalise said. 

“We do also recognize that it will take some time for our committees to organize and start moving legislation through regular order. In the meantime, we will begin bringing up meaningful, ‘ready-to-go’ legislation in the House.”

Tags abortion Alejandro Mayorkas Biden Border Safety and Security Check Crime Department of Homeland Security Energy Hyde Amendment immigration Immigration and Customs Enforcement Inflation Reduction Act Internal Revenue Service irs funding Kevin McCarthy Kevin McCarthy Mike Gallagher Mike Gallagher National Instant Criminal Background Check system Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party Steve Scalise Steve Scalise strategic petroleum reserve U.S. House Of Representatives

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