Dems unveil rules package to promote diversity, hit deficit

House Democrats have unveiled a package of new rules for the upcoming Congress that aim to promote diversity and attack the deficit.

The rules package would explicitly ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and would allow people to wear religious headgear in the House chamber. It would also create a House Financial Services subcommittee on diversity in the financial services industry.

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The House is expected to vote on the package on Thursday, after the new Democratic majority is sworn in and the House elects a new Speaker.

Some of the budgetary rules provoked quick criticism from the left, which argued a "pay-as-you-go" provision requiring a point of order against any bill that raised the deficit or reduced a surplus could make it harder to pass legislation on health care and other issues.

The rule can be waived, and bills designated as emergencies are exempt.

Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaDem rep proposes Trump, Congress hire mediators to resolve shutdown Blue states buck Trump to expand health coverage Ocasio-Cortez sparks debate with talk of 70 percent marginal rate MORE (D-Calif.) and Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezNew progressive sheriffs in town ready to fight for Main Street Meghan McCain on Ocasio-Cortez: She is 'just like Trump on Twitter' Ocasio-Cortez returns to 'The Late Show' on Monday MORE (D-N.Y.) both said they would vote against the rules package because of the pay-go provision.

 

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill responded by stating that a vote against the House Democrats’ rules “is a vote to let Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOn The Money: Trump teases 'major announcement' Saturday on shutdown | Fight with Dems intensifies | Pelosi accuses Trump of leaking trip to Afghanistan | Mnuchin refuses to testify on shutdown impacts The Hill's Morning Report — Shutdown fallout — economic distress On The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions MORE make across the board cuts, unilaterally reversing Democratic initiatives and funding increases.”

Mulvaney is President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump knocks BuzzFeed over Cohen report, points to Russia dossier DNC says it was targeted by Russian hackers after fall midterms BuzzFeed stands by Cohen report: Mueller should 'make clear what he's disputing' MORE's acting chief of staff and the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Hammill said a pay-go mechanism under federal law already requires the Office of Management and Budget to offset deficit-increasing bills with across-the-board mandatory spending cuts. The House Democrats’ rule would allow Democrats to designate “appropriate offsets,” including tax increases.

Another budget-related portion of the House Democrats’ rules package, often known as the “Gephardt rule,” would cause the House to automatically pass legislation suspending the debt limit when it adopts a budget resolution.

The federal debt limit is slated to be reinstated on March 2, but the Treasury Department is likely to be able to use “extraordinary measures” to allow the U.S. to meet its obligations until at least mid-summer. The debt limit has been a point of contention in the past, because conservatives have wanted to tie debt-limit increases to spending cuts.

The rules package would also eliminate a provision in House Republicans’ rules packages that the Joint Committee on Taxation issue “dynamic scores” of major legislation that take the macroeconomic impacts of the legislation into account. Republicans have pointed to dynamic scoring to argue that tax cuts pay for themselves at least in part, while Democrats have been more concerned about tax cuts’ impact on the debt.

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiOn The Money: Trump teases 'major announcement' Saturday on shutdown | Fight with Dems intensifies | Pelosi accuses Trump of leaking trip to Afghanistan | Mnuchin refuses to testify on shutdown impacts Ellen DeGeneres buys cheesecakes from furloughed federal workers who were baking to make ends meet Trump teases 'major announcement' about shutdown on Saturday MORE (D-Calif.), who is expected to win the Speakership, hailed the rules package in a statement.

“By an historic ten million vote margin, the American people went to the polls and asked for a professionally run Congress that would be more transparent, ethical and committed to debating and advancing good ideas no matter where they come from,” she said.

“Our rules package will deliver that Congress, ushering in a new era of clean government that will honor the consensus of the American people — restoring the People’s House to the people.”

Besides budget-related rules, the package also aims to advance Democrats priorities by creating a select committee relating to climate change, authorizing the House to intervene in court cases challenging the legality of ObamaCare and directing the House’s general counsel to look into options for responding to Trump administration rulemaking on work requirements for food stamp recipients.

The package includes changes to the legislative process, such as a provision that requires the text of the bill to be public for a full 72 hours before the House votes on it. It would also change the name of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee to the Oversight and Reform Committee and change the name of the Education and the Workforce Committee to the Education and Labor Committee.

Other provisions include changes aimed at strengthening ethics requirements. These include requiring annual ethics training for House members, preventing lawmakers and staff from serving on corporate boards and adding to the official code of conduct a standard that lawmakers should resign from committees and leadership positions if they are charged with felonies.