House approves new Dem rules package

The House on Thursday approved a Democratic rules package with just a few defections from progressives despite concerns on the left about the resolution’s “pay-as-you-go” provision.

The rules were approved by a largely party-line vote of 234-197. The House will take up two additional portions of the package in coming days.

Three Republicans, Reps. Tom ReedThomas (Tom) W. ReedA rare display of real political courage Overnight Health Care: Dems hit GOP with ObamaCare lawsuit vote | GOP seeks health care reboot after 2018 losses | House Dems aim for early victories on drug pricing | CDC declares lettuce e-coli outbreak over Dems hit GOP on health care with additional ObamaCare lawsuit vote MORE and John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoOn The Money: Shutdown Day 25 | Dems reject White House invite for talks | Leaders nix recess with no deal | McConnell blocks second House Dem funding bill | IRS workers called back for tax-filing season | Senate bucks Trump on Russia sanctions Latest funding bill to reopen the government fails in House Democrats turn down White House invitation for shutdown talks MORE of New York and Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickLatest funding bill to reopen the government fails in House GOP maps out early 2020 strategy to retake House A rare display of real political courage MORE (Pa.) voted for the package. Three Democrats, Reps. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaOcasio-Cortez among progressives joining House Oversight: report Dem rep proposes Trump, Congress hire mediators to resolve shutdown Blue states buck Trump to expand health coverage MORE (Calif.), Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardPoll shows 36 percent support Trump's reelection, 43 percent prefer generic Democrat Will a Democratic woman break the glass ceiling in 2020? 2020 Dems seize on MLK Day for campaign messaging MORE (Hawaii) and Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez among progressives joining House Oversight: report On The Money: Shutdown Day 32 | Senate to vote on dueling funding measures | GOP looks to change narrative | Dems press Trump on recalled workers | Kudlow predicts economy will 'snap back' after shutdown Why Ocasio-Cortez should make flood insurance reform a priority MORE (N.Y.) voted against it.

The architects of the package — which was unveiled by new Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiBudowsky: Pelosi can break shutdown stalemate GOP seeks to change narrative in shutdown fight Poll shows 25 percent view McConnell favorably, lowest among leaders in survey MORE (D-Calif.) and Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) earlier this week — said it will promote diversity and help fight the deficit.

Under the new rules, lawmakers and House employees are barred from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Members and staff are also be permitted to wear religious headgear in the House chamber.

And the rules allow for the creation of a House Financial Services subcommittee to address diversity in the financial industry.

The rules package also would reinstate the “Gephardt rule,” named after former Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.), which would result in the House automatically passing a resolution suspending the debt limit when the chamber adopts a budget resolution.

And it includes some legislative-process reforms, including one that requires bills to be publicly available for 72 hours before the House votes on them.

One budgetary rule faced sharp backlash from progressive members of the caucus, including Khanna and Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Critics argued the "pay-as-you-go" provision, which requires a point of order against any bill that raises the deficit or reduces a surplus, could create additional hurdles in accomplishing their legislative priorities in areas like health care. The rule is able to be waived and emergency funding bills would be exempt.

“I will be voting NO on the Rules package with #PayGo. It is terrible economics. The austerians were wrong about the Great Recession and Great Depression. At some point, politicians need to learn from mistakes and read economic history,” Khanna tweeted Wednesday.

But many other progressive lawmakers voted for the rules, despite their concerns over pay-as-you-go. Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs Mark PocanMark William PocanDems offer measure to raise minimum wage to per hour House Dems to introduce minimum wage bill Congress poised to push back at Trump on Saudi Arabia, Syria MORE (D-Wis.) and Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalSmall but powerful amendment could lessen immigration detention Dems revive impeachment talk after latest Cohen bombshell Women's March plans 'Medicare for All' day of lobbying in DC MORE (D-Wash.) said they would vote for the rules package because they received assurances that pay-go could be waived.

"Chairman McGovern and House Leadership have committed to us that PAYGO will not be an impediment to advancing key progressive priorities in the 116th Congress," Pocan and Jayapal said in a statement Wednesday.

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said voting 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 now the president's chief of staff.

McGovern praised the package for its inclusion of ideas from members from different factions of the caucus, adding he thinks it should serve as an example for other branches of government.

“The Senate will work its will and the president may still reach for his phone to tweet insults and name-call. But we can and we should be the example of how Congress should operate," he said during debate on the floor. "And I'm proud that this Democratic majority has developed a historic rules package that will immediately help restore integrity to this institution."

Rules Committee ranking member Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeBottom Line Dems hit GOP on health care with additional ObamaCare lawsuit vote Overnight Health Care: House files motion to defend ObamaCare in lawsuit | Trump Medicaid director leaving after three months MORE (R-Okla.) said while there are elements of the rules package he’s supportive of, he feels it prioritizes Democratic goals and therefore he can’t support it.
“There are some good, bipartisan ideas in this package for improving the institution but on the whole, the package reflects only Democrat priorities and for that reason, I will be opposing it,” he said on the floor.

While the Democrats’ rules largely lack Republican support, Reed, who is co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, bucked his party's leadership and joined Democrats in voting for it on the floor.

“This is a step in the right direction, and I want to show that it’s time for both sides of the aisle to set aside this partisanship and start working together,” Reed told The Washington Post on Wednesday. “I’m glad to support them.”

Two additional portions of House Democrats’ rules package will be considered in the near future. A portion to establish a select committee on modernizing Congress is expected to be considered Friday, and a portion authorizing Pelosi to intervene in court cases involving ObamaCare is expected to be considered next week.

Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyTexas governor, top lawmakers tell Trump not to use hurricane relief funds to build border wall Trump on declaring national emergency: 'Not going to do it so fast' Dems look to chip away at Trump tax reform law MORE (Texas), the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, offered a motion to refer the rule governing the rules package to a select committee, in an effort to make permanent the increased standard deduction and expanded child tax credit contained in President TrumpDonald John TrumpCoast Guard chief: 'Unacceptable' that service members must rely on food pantries, donations amid shutdown Dem lawmaker apologizes after saying it's never been legal in US to force people to work for free Grassley to hold drug pricing hearing MORE’s tax law. But House Democrats approved a motion to table Brady’s motion.

—Niv Elis contributed.