20 Lawmakers Stood Up to the Washington Establishment. This is Their Story.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy was elected as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives after a historic 15 rounds of voting over four days in January. His journey to the gavel was not an easy one. 

Twenty lawmakers, including Reps. Chip Roy of Texas, Eli Crane and Andy Biggs of Arizona, Anna Paulina Luna and Matt Gaetz of Florida, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, and Dan Bishop of North Carolina, took a stand against the Washington establishment to enact major changes in how the House of Representatives functions. 

“The whole debate about the speaker was important on a host of different levels. First of all, you got to go back to why it even happened. All the way back to last summer, before we knew what the majority breakdown was going to be,” Roy told The Daily Signal. “Was it going to be a five-seat majority, a 20-seat majority, a whatever?”

“We were all sitting down saying, ‘What do we need to change about this place in terms of how the rules work?’ Both in the Republican Conference and the House rules,” Roy said. 

Reps. Bob Good of Virginia, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Byron Donalds of Florida, Keith Self of Texas, Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Andy Harris of Maryland, Josh Brecheen of Oklahoma, Matt Rosendale of Montana, Mary Miller of Illinois, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Andy Ogles of Tennessee, Michael Cloud of Texas, and Ralph Norman of South Carolina also initially voted against McCarthy’s speakership bid. 

“So, I went to leadership. We started out with a simple set of rules. We wrote them up and said, ‘Here are the problems with our current rules,’” Perry told The Daily Signal. “We want to talk about some spending, talk about committee assignments. Not for us personally, but just to have a look across the conference and make sure all voices were heard. We were completely dismissed.”

Biggs, Boebert, Crane, Gaetz, Good, and Rosendale voted “present” in the 15th round of voting. McCarthy won the speakership with 216 votes.

“The reason that I did what I did and voted the way I did for 14 or 15 rounds was because that’s what I heard from my voters for a year and a half,” Crane, a freshman member of Congress, told The Daily Signal. “If you go out, walk out of my office and look on the sign on the door, it says ‘Representative.’ My job is to represent what they want.” 

The 20 members were able to negotiate numerous concessions, including a restriction requiring amendments to bills to be germane (more on this below), controls on spending, a prohibition on omnibus bills, conservative inclusion on key committees, the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, and the ability to “vacate the chair,” i.e. ousting the speaker through a vote.

“A germane amendment is an amendment that is directly relevant to the subject matter of the underlying bill. This rule is intended to prevent lawmakers from adding unrelated or extraneous provisions to a bill in an attempt to pass them under the guise of a larger bill,” Scott Zipperle, congressional communications outreach manager for government relations at The Heritage Foundation and co-producer of the documentary, told The Daily Signal. (The Daily Signal is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation.)

The Daily Signal sat down with Roy, Gaetz, Biggs, Crane, Luna, Bishop, and Perry to discuss the House speaker race and why they chose to take a stand. 

This is the story of “The 20.” 


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