WASHINGTON, DC —In a series of speeches today on the House Floor, Rules Committee Chairman James P. McGovern (D-MA) began consideration of the rules package for the 116th Congress. These historic reforms will modernize Congress, create a more accommodating legislative process, and hold the Trump Administration accountable on day one of this new Congress. Following consideration of H.Res. 5 and Title I of H.Res. 6 today, the House will consider Title II of this rules package tomorrow and Title III next week. More information on this package, text, and a section-by-section summary are available here.
“In a sign that we intend to run this place differently, these ideas were developed from the bottom up, not the top down. We asked every member for their ideas, from the longest-serving to the newly elected. Democrats and Republicans alike. We spoke to experts inside and outside this Congress. From every House committee. From offices like the Parliamentarian and the General Counsel. From the Progressive Caucus and the Black Caucus to the Hispanic Caucus, the Blue Dogs and the Problem Solvers. And from outside groups engaged on these issues. We spent months vetting suggestions and came up with a final package that reflects all corners of the Democratic Caucus and this Congress. Never before has a rules package been developed like this, Mr. Speaker. And our collaborative process made the final product a stronger one,” McGovern said on the Floor during consideration H.Res 5.
“A rules package may seem like some arcane technicality. A simple legislative move on opening day of a Congress. But it’s really much more than that. This is our first opportunity to declare what kind of institution this House will be. I’m proud that through collaboration and conversation, we have drafted a rules package that boldly declares that it’s a new day for Congress,” continued McGovern during consideration of H.Res 6. “This will be a more accommodating institution as a result, a more responsive House, and a place that looks more like the real world. That is what’s at the heart of what we’re debating. Right here on day one we have a chance to vote to be a different kind of Congress. One that turns the page on the past and charts a new course.”
The Democratic rules package will modernize Congress in five key ways:
It restores the people’s voice by aligning Congress’ agenda with the priorities of the American people. That includes changes that would: enable the House to defend the Affordable Care Act’s pre-existing conditions coverage; create a Select Committee on the Climate Crisis so Congress can better respond to the urgency of this threat while creating the good-paying, green jobs of the future; protect federal workers by ending the Holman Rule, which allows appropriations bills or amendments that would reduce the salary of or fire a specific federal employee or cut a specific program; strengthen representation by giving voting rights to Delegates and the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico in the Committee of the Whole; ensure Delegates and the Resident Commissioner can be appointed to Joint Committees; and honor our commitment to workers by putting labor back in the Committee on Education and Labor.
It restores the legislative process by creating a more accommodating process for ideas to be considered. That includes changes that would: establish a real 72-hour rule so members of Congress have time to read the major bills they’re voting on; create a consensus calendar to expedite consideration of measures with broad bipartisan support; require bills that go through the Rules Committee to have a hearing and a markup before they go to the floor; and create a bipartisan Select Committee to modernize and improve Congress.
It restores oversight and ethics by cleaning up Washington and reasserting the legislative branch as a co-equal branch of government. That includes changes that would: close the conflict of interest loophole by prohibiting Members, Delegates, the Resident Commissioner, and staff from serving on corporate boards; require all members of Congress – not just new members – to complete ethics training every year; provide assistance and training to congressional staff in order to properly and securely handle whistleblowers who reach out to congressional offices; make clear that nondisclosure agreements cannot be used to prohibit current or former staff from reporting possible wrongdoing; and set a policy that Members indicted for serious crimes should resign from leadership roles and committee assignments.
It restores budget rules through: eliminating the sham budgetary process of CUTGO that pretends tax cuts pay for themselves; streamlining budget rules by eliminating dynamic scoring requirements; reinstating and modernizing the Gephardt Rule to protect our nation’s credit rating; and ending the policy that allows Federal lands to be given away for free without acknowledging the budgetary impact.
It restores inclusion and diversity so the House of Representatives reflects the faces of America. That includes changes that would: amend House rules to clearly ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity; ensure religious expression by clarifying that religious headwear is permitted to be worn in the House chamber; create a diversity office to facilitate a workforce that reflects Members and the districts they represent; and create a subcommittee within the Committee on Financial Services to oversee diversity and inclusion within the financial services space.
This package was developed after extensive consultation with Members and Members-elect as well as caucuses including the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Democratic Women’s Working Group, the New Democrat Coalition, the Blue Dog Coalition, and members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and the Problem Solvers Caucus. Outside groups were also consulted, including Demand Progress, the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Rebuild Congress Initiative, and Public Citizen, as well as process experts from all House committees, the Congressional Research Service, the Office of the General Counsel, the Office of the Parliamentarian, and the Congressional Budget Office, among others.