Thursday, April 18, 2024

MALLOY: Big changes coming if GOP wins the House

| September 26, 2022 10:26 AM

First District Congressman Russ Fulcher has spent his first two terms in office in unfamiliar territory as a member of the minority party — a drastic culture change from his years in the Idaho Senate, where Republicans controlled the agenda.

If the political sages are correct, and Republicans gain a majority the House, Fulcher’s congressional career will take another twist. Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi will be gone as speaker of the House and Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy will likely take over. Rep. Jim Jordan, one of the staples of the House Freedom Caucus, will be the new lead figure on the Judiciary Committee.

Obviously, the days of House investigations of Donald Trump will be over. Those are welcome changes in Fulcher’s eyes.

“The ongoing climate change/green new deal type agenda that is on the current docket will change,” Fulcher says. “Not to say that it will be ignored, but it will not have priority one, two and three all the time. The approach taken with climate change, for example, is not just going to be on the United States. There must be participation from the biggest offenders of carbon emissions. Whatever approach is taken will be different, which is a hugely good thing.”

What’s encouraging is that Republicans, such as Fulcher, are at least acknowledging that climate change is more than a left-wing conspiracy theory.

But Fulcher says that isn’t the only thing we’ll see when the new speaker takes the gavel.

“There is the power of the purse,” he said. “I do believe there’s a strong chance that the 87,000 new IRS agents will be defunded, or at least there will be greatly reduced funding. We don’t have the horsepower to change the law, but we will certainly have the power of the purse and a lot can be controlled with that. I use the IRS agents as an example, because that’s the most egregious that seems to offend almost everybody but the hardcore Democrats.”

In summary, he says, the House will be a much better place with Republicans in charge. But expect some glitches, and plenty of controversy, along the way. After all, we are talking about, until further notice, the party of Donald Trump.

“It will appear to be dysfunctional, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be,” the congressman said. “This thing called the Constitution was never meant to be smooth sailing. It was meant to have debate and for members to put their thoughts in the arena and see what prevails. We’re going to fight, and you’re going to see the same kind of conflicts that occurred when Republicans were in control.”

Ah, yes, those were the days — when the Freedom Caucus, the Western Caucus and the GOP conference were at loggerheads.

“As harsh as it sounds, that’s the way it’s supposed to be,” Fulcher says. “It forces debates to happen and ideas to be placed on the table. I think that’s a good thing.”

But to much of the public, outside of the Washington Beltway, folks don’t really care about what party controls the House. People are more concerned about the rising cost of groceries, filling their gas tanks and keeping a roof over their heads. And Fulcher is hearing plenty about those frustrations that cut across party lines.

“I think Idahoans have been hit harder than most. We still have gas prices that are 50 cents over the national average, and I don’t understand why. But inflation is the No. 1 thing on people’s minds,” Fulcher said.

If President Biden and the Democrats created the mess, it will be up to Republicans — and the likes of Fulcher — to provide the remedy.

“Another thing that people are unhappy with is corruption. There’s a big distrust with Congress and government, period,” Fulcher says.

So, we could be seeing a “throw the bums out” mentality in these midterms. But probably not in Idaho. Republicans generally win big in the Gem State and Fulcher seems to be a safe bet to secure re-election in one of the nation’s most conservative congressional districts.

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Chuck Malloy, a longtime Idaho journalist and Silver Valley native, is a columnist with Idaho Politics Weekly. He may be reached at