Updated Apr 12, 2024 - Politics & Policy

House Republicans fume over "messaging" votes

Rep. Troy Nehls, carrying a yellow and green Green Bay Packers umbrella and smoking a cigar outside the Capitol while wearing a black suit, light blue shirt and tie with American flags, eagles, U.S. monuments and the Constitution on it.

Rep. Troy Nehls. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

House Republicans' frustration is simmering over plans to vote on a series of appliance-related messaging bills next week that are likely to stall in the Senate.

Why it matters: It's not about the bills themselves, GOP lawmakers say, but what they represent — the GOP-controlled House's inability to pass substantive bills aside from "must-pass" legislation.

  • Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) said he is moving his "focus to the presidential election."
  • "I think it's fair to say we've been frustrated for the past several months," Nehls said.
  • "This place is dysfunctional, unfortunately," he added.

Driving the news: The House Rules Committee's schedule for next week consists entirely of a half dozen bills to prohibit the Energy Department from setting energy use standards for home appliances.

What they're saying: "With any material vote, we've relied predominantly on Democrat votes. And then we want to pass messaging bills, that have no future in the Senate, to show what we stand for," Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) told Axios.

  • Good, the chair of the right-wing Freedom Caucus, said that dynamic is "not really doing anything for the American people."
  • Rep. Max Miller (R-Ohio) told Axios he is "really sick of these messaging bills," adding, "Yeah you support Israel, yeah you support Ukraine ... but what are you actually doing to help them by putting a piece of paper on the floor that's expressing the sentiment of Congress?"
  • Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) said House Republicans are "just dallying with our time." "This country's got issues here – security, we've got debt, we've got all kinds of issues we've got to address," he said.

What to watch: Asked if there should be consequences for House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and others GOP leaders, Good said, "Well, I don't think that's a sustainable future, to do what we've been doing now."

  • Good is among a handful of right-wing hardliners who have declined to say whether they would throw their potentially decisive support behind Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) if she forces a vote to remove Johnson.

Zoom out: For some lawmakers, it's not just about next week or even the 118th Congress, but an indictment of the nature of modern politics.

  • "Those post offices aren't going to name themselves," Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) quipped ruefully when asked about the appliance votes.
  • Burchett added: "I have bills in committees that don't get heard. Up here, there are two ways to get ahead: raise money and kiss a**. And I don't do a good job at either one of them ... it's the system, man. It's the system."

The other side: Some GOP lawmakers said the appliance-related bills are worth their time, even if they don't stand a chance in the Senate.

  • Rep. John Duarte (R-Calif.) said he would "like to get a lot of things done," but "we're going to protect Americans' choice on their home appliances."
  • Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) said he has no issue with the bills but wants "a strategy for how we're going to deal with the rest of this Congress."

The bottom line: "It almost seems like [Senate Democratic Leader] Chuck Schumer is in charge of Congress," Nehls said.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details.

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