US Congress’ wild 2023: McCarthy and Santos ousted; flirtation with economic disaster

US Congress’ wild 2023: McCarthy and Santos ousted; flirtation with economic disaster

US Congress’ wild 2023: McCarthy and Santos ousted; flirtation with economic disaster By Reuters

Breaking News



Published Dec 27, 2023 06:03AM ET
Updated Dec 27, 2023 11:06AM ET

© Reuters. Pedestrians walk along the East Front of the U.S. Capitol Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 4, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner/File Photo

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – There was plenty of sound and fury this year in the U.S. Congress, but scant legislating amid Republican infighting in the House of Representatives, leaving little time for pressing matters such as funding the government and continuing to aid Ukraine in its war against Russia.

Congress will return for its 2024 legislative session on Jan. 8. Lawmakers will be confronted with Jan. 19 and Feb. 2 deadlines for settling government spending through September. They also hope to pass emergency aid for Ukraine and Israel, possibly with unrelated U.S. border security provisions attached.

Failure to approve the one-dozen fiscal 2024 spending bills would plunge Washington agencies into shutdown mode.

With the November presidential and congressional elections now looming, Congress could see yet another year of struggles, especially if Republican chaos in the deeply-divided House continues.

Three history-making developments defined Congress in 2023:

A record 15 ballots were required before Republicans managed to elect Representative Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House; within nine months a group of right-wing conservatives made him the first speaker in history to be removed from office and it took three weeks to anoint a new one; and two months later, Republican Representative George Santos became the first member to be expelled from the House who had not been convicted of a crime or fought for the Confederacy during the U.S. Civil War.

The result was that for more than the equivalent of a full month the House was unable to work on any legislation as the chamber fought to tamp down Republican anarchy.

As revolts by right-wing Republicans roiled the House, the Senate was comparatively tame, working across party lines to write one dozen 2024 spending bills — none of which have yet made it into law in any form — and trying to confirm as many of Democratic President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees as possible as he enters the final year of his first term in office.


Amid the House ruckus, lawmakers narrowly avoided a couple of disasters.

They sidestepped triggering an historic default on U.S. debt in June with a deal that made minor budget savings. It promptly was thrown into controversy as right-wing House Republicans refused to adhere to the top-line spending authorized by the deal. And, despite two close brushes in October and November, there were no government shutdowns, as stop-gap federal funding bills kept U.S. agencies running on fumes.

In one important legislative victory, a defense policy bill was enacted into law, authorizing a record $886 billion in annual military spending.

The relatively unproductive year was in contrast to 2022, when the Democratic-controlled Congress passed a major infrastructure investment law, record investments to fight climate change and lower prescription drug prices and the first major new gun controls in decades.

Last year may have been light on lawmaking, but it had no shortage of colorful personalities.

Congressional Democrats privately worried about Biden’s age (81) as he gears up for re-election; Senate Republicans fretted their leader, Mitch McConnell (81), may not be up to the job, especially after two episodes in which he froze in front of cameras, stirring worries about his health.

Democrat Joe Manchin announced he will not run for re-election in his solidly-Republican home state of West Virginia. But he refused to quiet speculation he might run as an independent presidential candidate.

His exit put a dent in Democrats’ drive to keep their Senate majority in November’s elections.

The House authorized an impeachment probe of Biden, even though Republican investigators have not unveiled firm evidence of presidential wrongdoing; Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene used a congressional hearing to show graphic images of what she said was Biden’s son, Hunter.

Meanwhile, three House Democrats were censured: Adam Schiff for investigating Trump’s conduct as president; Jamaal Bowman for pulling a fire alarm in a House office building when there was no fire; and Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, for comments she made regarding Israel’s war with Hamas.

When elected speaker, McCarthy triumphantly said: “It’s time for us to be a check and provide some balance to the president’s policies.” Instead, McCarthy is checking out of Congress on Dec. 31.

US Congress’ wild 2023: McCarthy and Santos ousted; flirtation with economic disaster

Our Apps

Terms And Conditions
Privacy Policy
Risk Warning
Do not sell my personal information

© 2007-2023 Fusion Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.

Risk Disclosure: Trading in financial instruments and/or cryptocurrencies involves high risks including the risk of losing some, or all, of your investment amount, and may not be suitable for all investors. Prices of cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and may be affected by external factors such as financial, regulatory or political events. Trading on margin increases the financial risks.Before deciding to trade in financial instrument or cryptocurrencies you should be fully informed of the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite, and seek professional advice where needed.Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. The data and prices on the website are not necessarily provided by any market or exchange, but may be provided by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual price at any given market, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Fusion Media and any provider of the data contained in this website will not accept liability for any loss or damage as a result of your trading, or your reliance on the information contained within this website.It is prohibited to use, store, reproduce, display, modify, transmit or distribute the data contained in this website without the explicit prior written permission of Fusion Media and/or the data provider. All intellectual property rights are reserved by the providers and/or the exchange providing the data contained in this website.Fusion Media may be compensated by the advertisers that appear on the website, based on your interaction with the advertisements or advertisers.