From McCarthy’s Ouster to Unruly Hearings, 2023 was a Rollercoaster Ride on Capitol Hill
When the First Session of the 118th Congress commenced in January, it was clear that 2023 would be a tumultuous year on Capitol Hill. The House faced a grueling process to elect former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, with five days and 15 ballots before presenting him with the gavel. Little did they know, this was only the beginning of a rocky period that would foreshadow the chaos to come.
McCarthy’s election as Speaker set a record as the longest speaker election in 164 years. However, his tenure was short-lived. In October, McCarthy was ousted by his colleagues in an extraordinary vote. This unexpected turn of events marked a significant moment in the year’s turbulent proceedings.
Despite McCarthy’s earlier promises of never quitting or yielding, his last day in office is now just a week away. And amidst all the drama, there’s still more to unpack.
A “Do Nothing Congress”: A Year of Meager Accomplishments
The public often criticizes lawmakers for being part of a “do nothing Congress,” and it seems voters have a strong case after 2023. Only 30 bills were approved by Congress this year, with President Biden signing them into law. However, the majority of these bills were merely to avert government shutdowns or suspend the debt ceiling. There’s little to show for the year’s work.
Republican Senator John Kennedy expressed his frustration, stating, “Sometimes it takes us weeks, months, even a year around here to getting nothing done.” Democrats have also joined in the criticism, with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries calling this Republican Congress the least productive in modern American history.
One Republican representative, Chip Roy, passionately demanded his colleagues to point out one significant achievement they could campaign on. His fervent speech epitomized the lack of progress in the First Session of the 118th Congress.
A Series of Unfortunate Events: Chaos and Controversy
2023 will be remembered as a year of chaos and controversy in Congress. From the lengthy process of electing a Speaker to a scandalous sexual escapade in a Senate room, the events that unfolded were far from ordinary.
Lawmakers missed opportunities for meaningful policymaking and struggled to pass legislation due to party divisions. The House Republicans, in particular, sometimes failed to reach the magic number of 218 votes needed to pass most bills.
But the nadir of the year came in a Senate room at the Hart Senate Office Building, where an illicit sexual encounter took place. This scandal defiled a room that had witnessed historic events, including Supreme Court nominee confirmation hearings and inquiries into significant national matters.
The year also saw lawmakers engaging in bizarre behavior. A senator challenged a witness to a fight during a hearing, while another representative accused a former speaker of elbowing him in the Capitol basement, leading to a chase through the Congressional tunnel.
And amidst all the chaos, there’s still more to unravel.
2023: A Year of Frustration and Unpredictability
Congress in 2023 resembled Alexander’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day from the children’s book. It was a year filled with frustration, unexpected events, and missed opportunities.
Lawmakers struggled to pass important legislation, deadlines loomed, and controversies erupted. Even the hearing rooms, once reserved for crucial congressional proceedings, became scenes of absurdity and misconduct.
While a hearing on UFOs may have been one of the few things that made sense in Congress this year, it’s clear that lawmakers and the American public are growing increasingly frustrated.
Several members of Congress are expected to step down in early 2024, reflecting their dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs. Former members who left or were defeated in previous years are likely grateful to be distant observers of the ongoing chaos.
As 2023 draws to a close, one can only hope that the next session of Congress will bring greater stability, productivity, and a renewed focus on serving the American people.