Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., started representing Kentucky’s 4th congressional district, which includes northern Kentucky, in 2012 and has earned the nickname of “Mr. No” on Capitol Hill.
“It’s true people have called me Mr. No in the past,” Massie said in an interview with Spectrum News. “I have voted against a lot of the rule changes that have happened here in the House.”
Massie was added to the House of Representatives Committee on Rules this legislative term. He said that serving on this committee may help him “to vote yes more frequently.”
“What I want a lot of people to realize is that sometimes I’m voting no because we’re not even following our own rules,” Massie said. “We’re not given time to read the bill, we’re given 10 bills inside of one vote.”
“The rules committee is where we, sort of, set the rules of debate and whether there can be amendments on that bill and how long you will have to read the bill before it comes to the floor,” Massie explained. “These are all, a lot, of my concerns I’ve had.”
He’s referring to a tactic both parties have used in order to pass legislation when they are in the majority. Massie’s appointment to the rules committee surprised many because of his hard line against the way things have been done.
“There’s been some interesting things in this new Congress,” said Matthew Green with the department of politics at Catholic University. “But, I never imagined that the rules committee would have, as a member, Tom Massie.”
The rules committee is powerful because its duties include determining which bills are considered by the full House of Representatives. Newly minted House Speaker Kevin McCarthy R-Calif., put Massie and two members of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus – Reps. Chip Roy R-Texas, and Rep. Ralph Norman R- S.C. – on the committee after they agreed to support him for speaker. The three now have the power to create significant barriers for McCarthy and the rest of Republican leadership.
“It’s a very powerful committee and putting someone like Tom Massie on the rules committee is potentially a big risk because Massie tends to do what he wants to do,” Green explained.
Massie said he doesn’t plan to use this position to get in the way. He said he hopes to help his party’s leadership work through potential roadblocks instead.
“My two other Conservative colleagues and I are kind of like the canaries in the coal mine,” Massie said. “We can identify problems for the speaker before they bring the bill to the floor and find out they’ve got bigger problems.”
With such a small majority in the House, Republicans can only afford to lose five votes when working to pass items on their agenda. To the surprise of many, Massie backed McCarthy through all 15 rounds of voting for House Speaker. Roy and Norman flipped to McCarthy in later rounds.
Massie referred to himself as a “barely Kevin” lawmaker in a Spectrum News interview in January, which took place between voting rounds for House Speaker.
“Kevin has given us so many changes to this institution that will outlast him, whether he lasts six years, two years or six days into his speakership these changes are fundamental,” Massie said.
The House Committee on Rules is a small one with only nine Republicans and four Democrats meaning Massie, Roy and Norman have the ability to influence the way the House operates if they are working together.
“The three of us are actually enough votes to sway the outcome because it’s such a small committee,” Massie said.
In addition to the rules committee, Massie serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Judiciary Committee.
He was also named to the new “Weaponization on the Federal Government” Subcommittee. This group operates under the Judiciary Committee and is led Rep. Jim Jordan R-Ohio. It’s sure to make headlines throughout the term as they lead a variety of investigations that take aim at Democrats.