OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
House Republicans have already made a slew of changes since taking control of the lower chamber. One change, in particular, has already infuriated Democrats.
New York Democrat Rep. Ritchie Torres took to the House floor to complain that Republicans are resurrecting a rule to include language in appropriations bills that “can rearrange an agency or slash specific positions or salaries.”
“But the rule could also be used to target an individual over ideological differences, or say a special counsel, like the one overseeing the Justice Department’s investigation into the presence of classified documents at former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate. Of course, the Democratic-led Senate would have to go along for any such rescissions to take effect, which is highly unlikely,” the Associated Press reported. “The House Freedom Caucus even specifically named Dr. Anthony Fauci in calling for the rule’s reinstatement. Fauci served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases from 1984 to 2022, and his efforts to mitigate the damage from COVID-19 clashed with the views of some conservatives closely aligned with former President Donald Trump.”
Ritchie worried that “the Holman rule would enable House Republicans to zero out funding for a criminal investigation into Donald Trump.”
Dems panic on the House floor after Republicans pass new rules package.
One Democrat whines that “the Holman rule would enable House Republicans to zero out funding for a criminal investigation into Donald Trump.” pic.twitter.com/ZroaJNpASd
— Patriot Alerts (@alerts___) January 10, 2023
Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene recently spoke about the “Holman rule” and urged Republicans to impeach Attorney General Merrick Garland as well as block the use of taxpayer money for a special counsel to probe former President Donald Trump.
Greene called on the GOP to “refuse to appropriate any funding to Merrick Garland’s Special Counsel and defund any part of the DOJ acting on behalf of the Democrat party as a taxpayer-funded campaign arm for the Democrat’s 2024 presidential nominee.”
In a tweet detailing the plan, Greene said that current House Minority Leader and likely next House Speaker Kevin McCarthy would deny funding to the Department of Justice special counsel investigating Trump. Greene said McCarthy would invoke the Holman rule, a procedural measure by which the House may adjust appropriations legislation to reduce the salary of or fire specific government employees. They may also use it to cut specific programs.
“Holman Rule. Look it up! [McCarthy] is going to put it in place,” Greene wrote. “That means no money for Garland’s politically weaponized Special Counsel. Don’t promise too many jobs! Whoops defunded.”
It’s unclear whether Greene was predicting such action or announcing that McCarthy had made the decision to pursue it.
A report from Playbook detailed:
Attorney General MERRICK GARLAND’s decision to name a special counsel to helm DONALD TRUMP-related probes at the Justice Department roiled the political world on Friday. In an afternoon statement delivered before cameras at Main Justice, Garland argued the appointment of veteran DOJ hand JACK SMITH was necessary given that Trump and JOE BIDEN could be facing off for the presidency in 2024. “Such an appointment underscores the department’s commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters,” Garland said.
Some good it did him. On cue, Republicans called foul — and rushed forward to defend an ex-president who had appeared to be losing his grip on the GOP following the party’s disappointing election performance.
It sets up a new and explosive spending clash that could easily prompt a government shutdown in the next Congress. Why? MTG and like-minded Trump loyalists will press Kevin McCarthy (or whoever else manages to become speaker) to toe a hard line while Democrats will absolutely refuse to defund the investigations. Watch this space.
A spokesperson for Trump’s 2024 campaign told NBC News: “This is a totally expected political stunt by a feckless, politicized, weaponized Biden Department of Justice.”
As noted by Politico:
Even former Vice President MIKE PENCE blasted the special counsel appointment as “very troubling” during an appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual meeting, according to another good-get interview by Fox’s Brooke Singman and Paul Steinhauser.”
— “No one is above the law, but I am not sure it’s against the law to take bad advice from your lawyers,” he said. Pence went on to suggest that the DOJ has been politicized by Democrats and to knock the FBI for conducting a raid on Mar-a-Lago to fish out classified information Trump had taken to his post-presidency residence. (Note that Smith won’t only be managing the documents probe, but Jan. 6-related matters as well.)