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 PelosiOn The Money: Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms | Pelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks | Poll: Most Americans support raising taxes on those making at least 0K Battle heats up for House Foreign Affairs gavel Nearly one-third of US adults expect to lose employment income: Census Bureau MORE (D-Calif.), House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerFunding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms Hoyer releases 2021 House calendar Democrats eye Dec. 11 exit for House due to COVID-19 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.


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 MurphyRaising the required minimum distribution age for America's seniors Why it's time for a majority female Cabinet Democrats scramble on COVID-19 relief amid division, Trump surprise MORE (D-Fla.), Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.), Lou CorreaJose (Lou) Luis CorreaCriminalization that never should have been: Cannabis Man arrested, charged with threatening to attack Muslims in Germany Gloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California MORE (D-Calif.), Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.), and Kurt SchraderWalter (Kurt) Kurt SchraderHouse members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes The 14 Democrats who broke with their party on coronavirus relief vote House votes to condemn Trump Medicaid block grant policy 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.