Blue Dogs issue new call for House leaders to abide by pay-go rule

Blue Dogs issue new call for House leaders to abide by pay-go rule
© Melina Mara/Washington Post/Pool

The Blue Dog Coalition of centrist Democrats on Monday stepped up its push for House Democratic leaders to abide by the chamber's pay-as-you-go rule and only advance legislation that is fully offset.

The coalition sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSen. Ron Johnson hoping for Democratic 'gridlock' on reconciliation package Virginia race looms as dark cloud over Biden's agenda  Biden struggles to rein in Saudi Arabia amid human rights concerns MORE (D-Calif.), House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHoyer signals House vote on bill to 'remove' debt limit threat Feehery: Build back bipartisan Bottom line MORE (D-Md.) and House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) after 12 lawmakers in the centrist group last week voted against waiving the pay-go rule for a bill focused on tackling workplace violence in the health care and social services sectors.

"Last week, our members sent a clear message: The House must abide by PAYGO to prevent our fiscal state from getting worse," the Blue Dogs Coalition said in its letter.

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The rule that waived pay-go for the workplace violence prevention bill passed narrowly despite objections from the Blue Dog lawmakers. The bill itself passed with no Democrats voting against the measure.

The pay-go rule was included in the House's rules package that Democrats adopted in January. The rule establishes a point of order against legislation that increases the deficit, and it can be waived.

The Blue Dogs said that it's "more necessary than ever" for Democrats to promote fiscal responsibility in light of the fact that Republicans passed a tax-cut bill in 2017 that added to the deficit.

"However, in midst of one of the worst fiscal years in U.S. history, we have seen that leadership and the committees of jurisdiction have waived PAYGO several times for the convenience of bringing legislation to the floor," the Blue Dogs wrote. "The American people expect Congress to abide by the rules of governance—not circumvent them."

Seventeen members of the 26-member caucus signed the letter, including the members of the Blue Dogs Coalition's leadership: Reps. Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyOn The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Climate divides conservative Democrats in reconciliation push Jan. 6 panel to pursue criminal contempt referral for Bannon MORE (D-Fla.), Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.), Lou CorreaJose (Lou) Luis CorreaTop Latino group endorses Padilla for full Senate term Democrats weigh changes to drug pricing measure to win over moderates Democrats grasping at straws on immigration MORE (D-Calif.), Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.), and Kurt SchraderWalter (Kurt) Kurt SchraderDemocrats weigh changes to drug pricing measure to win over moderates Internal battles heat up over Biden agenda Moderate Democrat says he can't back House spending plan 'in its current form' MORE (D-Ore.).

This is the second letter this year that the Blue Dogs have sent House leadership about pay-go. It sent a similar letter in June, after House Democrats waived the pay-go rule to pass an immigration bill.

Some progressive members of the House Democratic caucus have raised concerns about pay-go, arguing that the rule could make it harder for the House to pass legislation on key liberal priorities. But Pelosi's office has defended the rule, arguing that it's necessary because otherwise the White House would be able to make unilateral spending cuts under a federal law. Progressives have introduced a bill to repeal the 2010 law.