As the new Republican-led Congress finally takes shape, Washington has been breathlessly bracing for Republican chairmen to issue a deluge of subpoenas. But skilled legislative and political tacticians know the real onslaught will take some time to gather steam, trickle in at first, and will not begin in earnest until February or March.

While the contested speaker race is now settled, the process took far too long delaying Congress from taking its critical formative steps—such as voting on the Rules of the House, which sets up the committee structure and authorizes those committees to issue subpoenas, conduct hearings, and take depositions. Until the committees are in place, the only way that subpoenas are issued is by a full House vote. A full House vote for a subpoena is quite a rare action, usually only taken to facilitate the House’s position in ongoing litigation.