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OPINION: Change in Washington Starts with Electing the Right Speaker

Published in multiple outlets, December 7, 2022.
Nearly everyone who runs for federal office campaigns on the notion that Washington is broken. Year after year that message continues to resonate with the American people. Americans work hard to provide for their families, but the cost of living continues to climb along with tax rates. They’re watching millions of people invade our borders, and they feel unsafe in their communities. They’re frustrated that politicians in Washington are getting nothing done to address these issues. We need a drastic change in Washington – that starts with electing a Speaker who is dedicated to restoring the House rules and can stand up to the White House and Senate.

Washington is broken. Over the years, Speaker Pelosi and Democrat leadership have incrementally changed the rules and processes in the U.S. House of Representatives to consolidate power in the top ranks of the majority party. These rules allow the Speaker of the House and the 9 hand-picked members of the Rules Committee to dictate every step of the legislative process. This small group of super-legislators choose what goes to the House floor and when it will be voted on. Having served as the Majority Leader in the Montana State Senate, I know what an effective, functioning legislative body looks like. This isn’t it!

I’ve worked with a few of my colleagues to outline reforms to the House rules that will restore regular order and allow every member the ability to participate in the legislative process. We have proposed rules requiring legislation to be available for five full days before a vote, banning earmarks so votes can’t be bought, the ability to propose an amendment to legislation on the floor, and streamlined single-issue legislation to eliminate thousand-page bills. These ideas aren’t new – many of these rules were in effect before Nancy Pelosi was elected Speaker. The proposed rule changes would restore basic elements to create a properly functioning legislature and guarantee that all Americans are represented.

Several months before the House Conference Leadership Elections, I joined a group of members to propose these rule changes to Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. He made it clear that he is unwilling to meaningfully change the rules and challenge the status quo in Washington. Current Republican leadership falls in with the majority of politicians who campaign on change but support the current system that provides them with undeserved power and privilege.

We need a leader who has the courage to fight and utilize every option to counter the destructive policies of the radical left. While Kevin McCarthy served as Minority Leader, I urged him to leverage our “must-pass” bills, like the federal and defense budgets, to prevent and change bad policies. 

At the very least, we could have forced Democrats to remove unrelated provisions from legislation – for example, the radical “climate justice” language in the infrastructure spending bill or vaccination mandates in the defense budget. Instead, he squandered every opportunity to protect Americans from woke policies and advance conservative values.

If Kevin McCarthy couldn’t lead in the minority, he doesn’t have the ability to serve as Speaker of the House. We need a Speaker who is strong enough to get things done with a Democrat-controlled White House and can unite the Republican party. You didn’t elect me to be a rubber stamp. We cannot continue to do the same thing with the same people and expect a different outcome.  My promise is to always fight for Montanans while in Washington.