House Democrats Announce Proposed Rule Changes to House Procedures

January 2, 2019, 8:09 PM UTC

House Democrats announced proposed rule changes to House operations with a focus on managing the nation’s debt and ensuring ethical practices.

One of the most controversial proposals revealed on Sunday aims to incorporate a “pay as you go” rule—also known as PAYGO—which requires an increase in entitlement spending to be offset by cuts to other programs or increases in revenue, NPR reports. The rule is supposed to prevent the nation’s deficit from growing, but progressive Democrats are decrying the effects such a rule could have on efforts to grow healthcare and other programs.

Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said on Twitter that she would vote “no” on the rule proposals because of PAYGO, calling it a “dark political maneuver designed to hamstring progress on healthcare+other leg.” California Rep. Ro Khanna has also spoken out about the measure online, calling it “terrible economics.”

While some progressives may not support the PAYGO clause, the Democrat’s proposed rule changes also include the creation of a committee to address climate change—a major item on the progressive agenda.

Other proposed rule changes include the revival of the “Gephardt Rule,” which automatically raises the debt ceiling after the House passes a budget. First introduced in the 1970s, the Gephardt Rule makes it more unlikely for the U.S. to default on its debts.

Democrats also hope to revive a rule requiring 72 hours to pass before any major legislation can be voted upon, allowing time for all lawmakers to review the bill, and remove a rule from 1837 that would forbid Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar, one of the first Muslim congresswomen, from wearing her headscarf.

Proposed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could benefit from a proposed change to the process by which sitting House speakers can be forced out. The proposal requires a majority of either the House Republican Conference or the House Democratic Caucus to create a motion “to vacate the chair,” as opposed to any single lawmaker being able to make such a move.

Finally, Democrats are proposing to create a bipartisan select committee to propose ways to “modernize and improve” the way Congress operatives, NPR reports. They’re also suggesting an ethics rule prohibiting lawmakers or aides from sitting on corporate boards and requiring all lawmakers to undergo annual ethics training.