GOP Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia says that the newly announced special counsel investigations of former President Donald Trump will be “defunded” after Republicans seize control of the House.
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday appointed veteran federal prosecutor Jack Smith as special counsel to spearhead criminal investigations of Trump, regarding the classified documents found in his Mar-a-Lago home and his activities surrounding the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Greene predicted that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will reinstate a little-known House rule after being voted in as speaker in January, with Republicans then moving to force the investigations to a grinding halt due to lack of funds.
“Holman Rule. Look it up!” Greene tweeted on Friday. “@GOPLeader is going to put it in place. That means no money for Garland’s politically weaponized Special Counsel. Don’t promise too many jobs! Whoops defunded.”
The Holman Rule, which was introduced to the House in 1876, allows members of Congress to propose amendments to appropriations bills that target specific programs or individuals. Programs and specific workers can be stripped of pay or fired under the rule.
Critics of the rule have said that it allows members of Congress to unethically target individuals and government agencies for political purposes, gives House appropriations too much power and could potentially paralyze the federal government.
When Republicans brought back the rule in early 2017, the National Federation of Federal Employees warned that it was “nothing more than an expressway for the politically corrupt to commandeer the capability of the executive branch.”
Republicans could potentially reinstate the rule in January. Before it was reinstated in 2017, the Holman Rule had not been in place since 1983. It was rescinded after Democrats took control of the House in 2019.
However, since the Republican House majority is likely to be razor-thin and will include some members with political philosophies diverging from Greene’s, it is not clear if the new leadership would be able to easily reenact the rule.
Three Republicans voted against the rules package that contained the provision before it was reinstated in 2017, while three others did not vote. A similar outcome, combined with unified Democratic opposition, could potentially block the change in the next Congress.
Even if the Holman Rule does come back, using it to stop the investigation could prove difficult. Both the House and the Democrat-controlled Senate would have to vote to approve any amendments proposed under the rule.
Republican lawmakers attempted to use the rule multiple times in 2017 and 2018, with none of their amendments ultimately passing.
If Republicans manage to reinstate the rule and pass a related amendment in the next Congress, President Joe Biden would still need to sign the attached legislation.
Sarah Binder, political science professor at George Washington University’s Columbian College of Arts and Science, told Newsweek that she suspects any Republican attempt to defund the investigation using the rule “would fail.”
“It’s not clear to me that Republicans would get 218 votes to pass the bill in the first place,” Binder said. “Even if the House succeeded, I doubt a Democratic-led Senate would agree to a spending bill that defunds Department of Justice personnel conducting lawful investigations.”
Binder said that she also doubted whether “Senate GOP leaders would necessarily back their House colleagues’ efforts.”
“Although Trump’s vocal House supporters might think this is a powerful threat, I’d be skeptical their efforts would bear fruit,” she added.
Newsweek has reached out to McCarthy’s office for comment.
Trump on Friday suggested his own measures to halt the special counsel investigations. The former president told Fox News Digital that the probes were “the worst politicization of justice in our country” and that he would simply refuse to “partake” in them.
Laurence Tribe, a Harvard University professor emeritus in constitutional law, told Newsweek that Trump’s remark that he would refuse participation “surely tops the list” of “all the ludicrous things that the former narcissist in chief has ever said.”
Update 11/18, 11:12 p.m. ET: This article has been updated to include comments from George Washington University political science professor Sarah Binder.