House to try again to rein in government

The House Rules Committee late Wednesday approved a rule for a hastily written bill that combines three pieces of legislation that were pulled from the House floor today.

The Stop Government Abuse Act, H.R. 2879, combines bills to limit bonuses for federal workers, allow officials to be put on unpaid leave during investigations, and allow people to record conversations with federal workers.

The three separate bills up today were part of the Republicans' "stop government abuse" legislative slate. The House ended up passing several bills limiting the IRS, but these three bills ran into Democratic opposition.

That made it impossible to pass them under a suspension of House rules, which requires a two-thirds majority vote for passage.

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Approval of a rule for the new combined bill will allow the House to pass the rule on Thursday, and then pass the bill itself with a simple majority vote.

Earlier in the day, Republicans wondered at how Democrats could oppose these sorts of good governance bills.

During debate, Democrats said the bills are part of a Republican political statement in which they don't want to participate. Democrats said the bills needlessly pick on federal workers, and said Republicans were pursuing them to distract from other issues like the lack of a budget and spending deal.

Republicans, in contrast, said these bills are needed to control an out-of-control government, and cited the IRS as the best recent example of the need to ensure citizens' rights when dealing with the federal bureaucracy.

The rule approved late Wednesday also allows consideration of H.R. 2009, the Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act. This bill would prevent the IRS from implementing any part of the 2010 healthcare law; the House is expected to pass that bill on Friday.

And, the rule allows consideration of H.R. 367, the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act. It allows for consideration of 12 amendments.