Aug 12, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: GOP plans effort to sabotage Inflation Reduction Act

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy talking to reporters outside his office
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

House Republicans are planning to try to open up Democrats' $740 billion tax, climate and health care bill to a legal challenge after it passes, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The move is Republicans' way of showing their base that they're going to great lengths to kill the legislation, which is likely to be unanimously opposed by House Republicans.

  • "I would be shocked if anybody [in the GOP] voted for it," said Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.), the House Republican chief deputy whip.

Driving the news: Republicans, led by members of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, plan to get "as many members as possible to vote by proxy" in order to deny Democrats a physical quorum, two senior Republican aides told Axios.

  • The bill would still pass, but Republicans hope a company affected by the tax provisions in the bill will then sue to challenge the law's constitutionality.
  • Fueling their plan is the fact that so many members are voting by proxy: There were 187 active proxy letters as of Friday afternoon, according to the House Clerk's office.

Yes, but: One aide stressed that, as of early Friday evening, the plan was not sure to go ahead as staffers continued to strategize and try to whip enough members into participating.

  • They added that, if the effort falls apart, Republican members will likely vote how they initially planned to.

Context: The Constitution requires Congress to have a simple majority of its members present to pass legislation — in other words, a quorum.

  • However, the House passed a resolution at the start of the 117th Congress that stipulates proxy votes count toward that quorum.

Flashback: The Supreme Court in January declined to hear a challenge to proxy voting brought by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), leaving in place a lower court ruling that the House's ability to make its own rules under the Constitution's speech or debate clause is not subject to judicial review.

  • However, one of the aides noted that a court has not weighed in on whether proxy votes count toward a quorum under the Constitution — buoying their hope that the matter could at least be adjudicated in court.

The other side: Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), told Axios in a statement, "Federal courts, including the Supreme Court, have clearly ruled that the House resolution establishing proxy voting is a legislative act that is covered by Constitution's Speech or Debate Clause."

  • "This is utterly pointless theatrics from a party caught in a toxic MAGA echo chamber and struggling to explain its defense of wealthy tax cheats and Big Pharma profits to the public."
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