It was another jaw-dropping week on the Hill as Rep. Kevin McCarthy shocked both sides of the aisle in an eleventh hour bailout of the Speaker’s race, leaving questions about who can lead the seemingly fractured House Republican Conference.
Here are the five things you need to know that happened in Congress this week:
- Rep. Kevin McCarthy drops his bed for Speaker
In a stunning move, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy withdrew his candidacy for House speaker Thursday, throwing Congress’ Republican leadership into chaos.
Why it matters: Not only does the Speaker of the House wield tremendous power in Congress, but they also have even greater potential power, for n the event of a President’s death, the Vice President assumes office; after that, the Speaker of the House moves to the White House. Beyond the obvious power at stake, McCarthy’s move has left the House in turmoil with no clear choice to fill the key post.
- GOP lawmakers move bipartisan effort to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank forward
While many watched as the U.S. Export-Import Bank was pronounced dead on the floor of Congress on June 30 — when its charter expired — a group of House Republicans have been busy trying to resuscitate the bank ever since. Friday, lawmakers backing the Ex-Im Bank gained enough support through a discharge petition to force a reform and reauthorization bill out of committee and on to the House floor for a vote to renew the agency’s charter.
Why it matters: The discharge petition is designed to bypass the floor schedule set by Majority Leader. With the House Republican caucus in disarray, the impending vote only adds to the chaos.
- Senate Democrats unveil sweeping gun control proposal
In the wake of yet another school shooting, Senate Democrats unveiled plans Thursday for gun control reforms that include closing background check loopholes, expanding the background check database, and tightening regulations on illegal gun purchases.
Why it matters: If President Barack Obama wants to a leave a legacy, signing comprehensive gun reform in to law would certainly make for a large feather in his cap. As Obama heads to Roseburg today, he will meet with the families of the Umpqua Community College shooting and will re-commit to making said gun laws a priority. Already, he’s strongly considering using his executive power to act where Congress won’t by expanding background checks through executive action.
- Senate OK’s annual defense bill, sends it to the President
Wednesday the Senate voted to approve the $612 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), 70 to 27. The NDAA authorizes funding for the Department of Defense and among other provisions includes a pay raise for troops, overhauling the military retirement system, which is currently only available to the 17 percent of service members who serve 20 plus years, and reworking the Pentagon’s acquisition system to improve efficiency and avoid cost overruns.
Why it matters: President Obama has threatened to veto the bill. Should he do so, it would be only the fifth time that has happened in the past half-century.
- Panel established to investigate Planned Parenthood
The House established a select panel under the Energy and Commerce Committee to investigate and report on all issues related to medical procedures and practices involving fetal tissue donation and procurement; federal funding and support for abortion providers; and late-term abortions, including partial-birth abortions and medical procedures for the care of “born alive” infants who survive abortion procedures.
Why it matters: A series of videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, which contain strong evidence that Planned Parenthood and its affiliates broke the law by engaging in illegal sale of fetal body parts, have created public outrage as to how tax-payer dollars are being spent. Findings unearthed by the committee may potentially damage the future of Planned Parenthood, who’s tax-payer funding is already being questioned.