[Analyse] Openly vindictive Republicans in the House

After the long and painful election of the president of the House of Representatives at the beginning of the year for the Republicans, the latter finally got to work this week in the Lower House of the American legislative seat, from which they have just resumed Control. For the next two years.

A predictable entry on the scene with the first revengeful and belligerent tones towards the Democrats, and which risks foreshadowing strained relations between this new Republican majority and the White House.

frontal attacks

They had promised it. They did it. The Republicans have just set up a special commission of inquiry into “the instrumentalization of the federal government”. The case aims to shed light on allegations fueled by the American conservative right that the Democrats have used the state apparatus for two years to attack and denigrate Republicans.

In essence, the new majority in the House has made it its mission to investigate the investigations underway in Washington and elsewhere in the country, including those targeting the former American president. Donald Trumpparticularly on his involvement in the Capitol insurrection on January 6, 2021 and on his attempt to reverse the election result in Georgia.

These investigations are described as “witch hunts” by several elected representatives of the right.

Donald Trump threw gasoline on the already intense fire of the divide

Recall that a congressional commission uncovered, at the end of 2022, the role played by the ex-president in an attempt to prevent a peaceful transition of power and in a stratagem deployed to maintain power against the will of the ballot box.

“As Republicans only control the Lower House, the laws they will pass are unlikely to survive a vote in the Senate. [à majorité démocrate] “, remarked in an interview with the To have to political scientist Michael Lynch, a specialist in American legislative life at the University of Georgia. “For this reason, they are likely to focus on the files which, in their opinion, will help them win the presidential election of 2024. The investigations into the Biden administration will therefore be at the heart of their concerns. »

The new chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, Republican of Kentucky James Comer, demonstrated this on Wednesday by announcing, as a first gesture, the launch of an investigation into the finances of Joe Biden and his family, especially the president’s son. Hunter Biden is regularly accused by Donald Trump of corruption for contracts he would have obtained in Ukraine and China in the past.

Settlements of accounts

Republicans rejoiced at the discovery this week, by Joe Biden’s own lawyers, of confidential documents dating from his time as vice president, forgotten in a former office of the Democrat in Washington and in the garage from his private residence in Wilmington, Delaware. These papers were not returned to the National Archives at the end of his term, as required by law. A dozen documents, the content of which was not specified, were found.

Ironically, since last summer, Donald Trump has been in the hot seat after an FBI search of his Florida residence in Mar-a-Lago revealed the presence of more than 300 classified documents, with which the populist left the White House.

On Tuesday, the new House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Ohio Republican Mike Turner, seized the matter on the fly to retaliate by asking Director of US Intelligence Avril Haines for a full assessment of the damages and the potential repercussions of this mishandling of classified files by the current president on national security. “Those in charge of accessing classified information have a duty and obligation to protect it,” he wrote to her.

Last August, Mike Turner sought to excuse the behavior of Donald Trump after the discovery of the mass of secret documents at Mar-a-Lago.

This dynamic of confrontation and settling of accounts is not new. “And it will persist in Congress until one side wins a decisive and relatively permanent victory,” said Grant Reeher, director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at Syracuse University, contacted by The duty in New York State. “This divide is a very long-standing problem that has worsened over the past six years. According to him, Washington is not yet out of it.

As proof: on the first day of the new chamber, on January 3, the representative of Texas, Pat Fallon, introduced a procedure for the impeachment of the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Alejandro Mayorkas, accused of not having succeeded to ensure control of the southern border of the United States in the face of legal and illegal immigration. The document was officially filed on Monday.

On the same day, Republicans in the House pushed through legislation to reverse the US$80 billion budget increase over 10 years enacted last year by the Democrats. The government was thus seeking to strengthen the ability of the US tax authorities to enforce laws on large fortunes, both individuals and companies. Last September, Republicans made a campaign promise to reverse that increase, to better serve wealthier Americans, who are generally more Republican than Democratic.

On Thursday, Kevin McCarthy, the new Speaker of the House, took the logic of settling scores a step further by raising the possibility of “expunging” the impeachment proceedings to which Donald Trump was subjected during and after his presidency: once and for all. having sought political favors in exchange for funding the Ukrainian army and once again for participating in the January 6, 2021 uprising.

Paying tensions for whom?

In 2013, a White House then in the hands of Democrat Barack Obama in constant opposition to a Congress with a Republican majority led to a shutdown of the activities of the American government apparatus for 15 days due to the incapacity of the executive and legislative power to agree on the funding of government departments and agencies. One remake of this scenario can no longer be ruled out in the current context, believes Michael Lynch. “These aggressive and revengeful tactics are very good for Republicans, especially for those who fear being challenged in their party’s upcoming primaries by challengers more to the right than them, he said. But the strategy is risky. If Republicans force another government shutdown and push overly conservative issues in the House, it could hurt them in the general election, when they have to defend those strong, more right-wing views against Democratic candidates. »

“Donald Trump has thrown gasoline on the already intense fire of cleavage, indicates for his part Grant Reeher. Who does this benefit? Unfortunately, to no one, and especially not to American citizens, who are the first losers of a policy that is becoming more and more toxic. On either side of the House. And he adds: “In 2024, a lot will depend”, not on the tensions between the House and the White House, but rather “on the candidates who will run for president, among the Democrats as well as among the Republicans. If the Republicans choose Trump, which seems unlikely to me, it will give the Democrats an advantage.”

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