New GOP rules will make it tougher for House to raise ceiling on federal debt

House Republicans set to release their recommended rules changes Wednesday will change the names of several committees and repeal a rule making it more difficult to raise the debt ceiling.

They will also require that all bills be posted online three days before a vote. 

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Republicans will keep the outside Office of Congressional Ethics, as well as the current rule that former House members may not use the House gym.

Republicans are touting the new rules as increasing openness, deliberation and efficiency in the House.

“These reforms represent Republicans' first step in keeping the promises we outlined in the Pledge to America to change the way Washington works and address the people’s priorities: creating jobs and cutting spending,” said Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-Ohio).

The draft rules would repeal the “Gephardt Rule” that allows the House to raise the debt limit automatically when a conference report on the budget is approved. If the rule is repealed, a separate vote on raising the debt ceiling must be held. 

Three committee names will change: The Committee on Education and Labor will again be referred to as the Committee on Education and the Workforce, the Committee on Standards and Official Conduct will become the Committee on Ethics, and the Committee on Science and Technology will referred to as the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Republicans are keeping in place the rule that prevents former members who are now lobbyists from using the House gym.

“The package also carries forth a rule that prohibits former members of Congress who are now registered lobbyists from using the member exercise facilities (the gym),” a leadership aide said. 

The outside ethics office has been criticized by many Republicans, but it will also be kept.

“The House rules package preserves the Office of Congressional Ethics with no changes made to its structure,” the leadership aide said.

The new rules also allow for a reading of the Constitution on the House floor by the Speaker on Jan. 6.

Republicans on the transition team were largely responsible for writing the recommended changes. The draft set of House rules for the 112th Congress will be available later Wednesday in electronic form. That’s a change from the past, when rules packages have been released the day of their approval.

Democrats will have the opportunity to offer an alternative package of House rules changes on Jan. 5, the day the House convenes for the 112th Congress.

House Republicans will meet Jan. 4 to approve the rules package within their conference.