The U.S. House was frozen stuck this morning after the new Republican majority splintered yesterday, the first day of the 118th Congress, over who should be the next House speaker.
Representatives cannot be sworn in and the House cannot begin business until members elect a speaker. Republicans start this session with 222 members and Democrats with 212, with one vacancy expected to be filled by a Democrat.
Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) yesterday was nominated three times to be speaker but failed to get a majority of votes. A fourth vote was getting underway as we went to press.
Delayed House business includes committee assignments, naming of committee chairs, and introduction of bills. Under Republican control, the Energy & Commerce Committee and its health and oversight subcommittees are expected to hold hearings on the 340B program and potentially mark-up legislation.
Democrats control the Senate with 51 seats (including three independents). Senators took their oaths of office yesterday then recessed until Jan. 23. Committee chair and member assignments have not yet been announced but Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is expected to chair the Senate HELP Committee which has jurisdiction over the 340B program. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) is expected to be the ranking Republican on the committee. Cassidy has been a vocal critic of several aspects of the 340B program and has introduced legislation to place significant restrictions on the program.