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. ReedPush for ‘Medicare for all’ worries centrist Dems Lower refunds amplify calls to restore key tax deduction Drug pricing fight centers on insulin MORE and John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoThe importance of moderate voters Overnight Health Care: CDC pushes for expanding HIV testing, treatment | Dem group launches ads attacking Trump on Medicare, Medicaid cuts | Hospitals, insurers spar over surprise bills | O'Rourke under pressure from left on Medicare for all Dem group launches ads attacking Trump's 'hypocrisy on Medicare and Medicaid cuts' MORE of New York and Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickThe importance of moderate voters Overnight Health Care: CDC pushes for expanding HIV testing, treatment | Dem group launches ads attacking Trump on Medicare, Medicaid cuts | Hospitals, insurers spar over surprise bills | O'Rourke under pressure from left on Medicare for all Dem group launches ads attacking Trump's 'hypocrisy on Medicare and Medicaid cuts' MORE (Pa.) voted for the package. Three Democrats, Reps. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaDem lawmaker confident majority of Mueller report will be released to public House Oversight Dem wants Trump to release taxes and 'get it over with' Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements MORE (Calif.), Tulsi GabbardTulsi Gabbard2020 Dems' stances abortion: Unjust and ignorant Here's what the Dem candidates for president said about the Mueller report Harris's stepkids call her 'Momala' MORE (Hawaii) and Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOmar controversy looms over AIPAC conference Senate gears up for Green New Deal vote Overnight Energy: Green New Deal vote set to test Dem unity | Renewables on track to phase out coal, study finds | EPA chief reportedly recuses himself from mine review MORE (N.Y.) voted against it.

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The architects of the package — which was unveiled by new Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Dems look for traction following Barr-Mueller findings Democrats face dilemma after Mueller probe ends Raskin embraces role as constitutional scholar 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 PocanTwo lawmakers just debated the merits of Nickelback on the House floor On The Money: Mnuchin urges Congress to raise debt limit 'as soon as possible' | NY officials subpoena Trump Org's longtime insurer | Dems offer bill to tax financial transactions Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez back 'end the forever war' pledge MORE (D-Wis.) and Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalLawmakers clash over whether conclusion of Mueller investigation signals no collusion Judiciary Dem: House investigations must 'start at the beginning' before discussing impeachment Dem support grows for allowing public funds to pay for abortions 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 MulvaneyTrump golfs with Graham, Gowdy and Mulvaney as White House awaits Mueller findings White House rejects Dem request for documents on Trump-Putin communications Consumer bureau chief reverses efforts to sideline advisory panels 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 ColeThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Dems look for traction following Barr-Mueller findings Dems shift strategy for securing gun violence research funds Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — FDA issues proposal to limit sales of flavored e-cigs | Trump health chief gets grilling | Divisions emerge over House drug pricing bills | Dems launch investigation into short-term health plans 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 BradyJOBS for Success Act would recognize that all people have potential Smaller tax refunds put GOP on defensive Key author of GOP tax law joins Ernst and Young 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 TrumpPapadopoulos claims he was pressured to sign plea deal Tlaib asking colleagues to support impeachment investigation resolution Trump rips 'Mainstream Media': 'They truly are the Enemy of the People' MORE’s tax law. But House Democrats approved a motion to table Brady’s motion.

—Niv Elis contributed.