State House

South Carolina House ‘Republicans’ Face First Litmus Test Vote

Uniparty seeks to stifle legislative debate … which GOP lawmakers will stand up and be counted?

Want to know which “Republican” lawmakers in the South Carolina House of Representatives are part of the problem – as opposed to part of the solution – when it comes to moving the Palmetto State forward?

You won’t have to wait long …

A key litmus test vote is approaching in the form of a controversial House rules change – one which would empower Democrats and left-of-center “Republicans” (a.k.a. the uni-party in South Carolina) while simultaneously shutting down the ability of conservative lawmakers to exert any influence over the legislative process.

Yesterday, our media outlet reported exclusively on this proposed rules change – which would effectively prohibit individual members of the S.C. House from introducing amendments to bills being debated on the floor. Under the new system, current GOP majority leader – Davey Hiott – and his Democratic counterpart, minority leader Todd Rutherford, would each select a dozen amendments from their colleagues for debate on the floor.

Hiott and Rutherford would also be allowed to introduce one amendment of their own – bringing the total number of amendments to twenty-six.

All other amendments would be ruled out of order – and summarily dismissed without a vote.

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To be clear: I have no issue with legislative leaders in the S.C. House taking steps to streamline the introduction of superfluous amendments intended to gum up the works in the chamber. Lawmakers should not be entitled to put up thousands of amendments of dubious relevance for the sole purpose of obstruction.

That is not what this is about, though.

Uniparty leaders aren’t trying to maximize legislative efficiency, they are seeking to minimize their exposure to embarrassing floor votes that could cost them support back home during an election year. If they can keep conservatives – notably members of the S.C. Freedom Caucus – from forcing recorded votes on amendments they would rather not deal with, they can go home to their constituents and pretend to have represented their interests as opposed to what they are actually doing, which is stabbing them in the back.

In other words, they are being spinelessly deceptive … or, deceptively spineless. Take your pick.

Sadly, such lack of principle is something we have come to expect from the GOP leadership under new speaker Murrell Smith, who seems more interested in playing games than actually engaging in a debate over why his supermajority can’t seem to allow conservatives a voice in state governance.

Assuming you believe limiting floor debate is a good thing, here is a better way to do it …

At last count, there were 88 Republicans and 35 Democrats in the S.C. House of Representatives. Accordingly, if we are capping amendments at 26 per bill, the “majority” leader should have the right to choose at least eighteen (18) amendments compared to no more than eight (8) for the minority party.

If Democrats want more amendment slots, they should win more elections. They should not be granted parity with a supermajority … parity they haven’t earned at the ballot box.

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More to the point, seeing as seventeen GOP lawmakers are members of the Freedom Caucus – the chairman of that group ought to have the ability to choose at least three (3) of the eighteen GOP amendments. While not ideal, this method would ensure that Freedom Caucus members are not completely shut out of the process – while allowing them the opportunity to force their establishment colleagues to take roll call votes on the most substantive amendments to important legislation.

I’d encourage Freedom Caucus members to propose such an alternative plan as an amendment to any rules change bill … but then again, GOP leaders might not let them do that.

Since obtaining their numerical supermajority following the 2022 elections, House GOP leaders have done everything in their power to neuter the conservative wing of their party. That includes last year’s decision by GOP establishment leaders to kick conservative Republicans out of their caucus after they declined to sign a “loyalty oath” to the establishment. It also includes recent efforts to bribe challengers to run against Freedom Caucus members in the upcoming 2024 primary election.

This cowardly, overtly political attempt to wrestle control of the floor debate away from Freedom Caucus members – while simultaneously awarding undeserved power to Democrats – is the latest bid by the uniparty to shut down dissent within its ranks, and to silence the very wing of the party dedicated to holding the party accountable to its stated principles. Make no mistake: If successful, this rule change will guarantee that South Carolina’s GOP “supermajority” remains the most liberal Republican legislature in America.

Accordingly, we are making this proposed rule change our first “litmus test” vote of the 2024 session. Any lawmaker who sponsors this measure or supports it – procedurally or with their “aye” vote – is endorsing a uniparty conspiracy aimed at suppressing our state’s representative democracy. As such, we will encourage them to be challenged – and defeated – in the upcoming 2024 election cycle.

BANNER: Travis Bell Columbia SC Photographers

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.

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4 comments

RC January 10, 2024 at 3:43 pm

Yes the “left-of-center” republicans that are currently… *checks notes* … fast tracking an anti-trans bill.

Reply
Bob January 10, 2024 at 3:56 pm

Freedumb KKKaucus members are the problem in government across the country. Their far-right extremism only allows for obstruction and shutdown. In towns were these MAGA loons have control, its been a total disaster. State GQPs parties are in financial turmoil. Luckily, these incompetent boobs are attacking other Republicans and causing them to retire left and right….leaving the crazies who are very unpopular with most voters.

Reply
Nanker Phelge January 10, 2024 at 4:15 pm

Obstructionism is not debate.

Reply
JustSomeGuy Top fan January 11, 2024 at 10:42 am

How would an Independent go about having an amendment considered?

Reply

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