Pelosi and McGovern Unveil Details of Rules Package for the 117th Congress
Includes sweeping ethics reforms, increases accountability for the American people, and makes this House of Representatives the most inclusive in history
**More information on these changes, text, and a section-by-section summary are available here**
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rules Committee Chairman James P. McGovern (D-MA) today unveiled the rules for the 117th Congress. This package, which will be introduced and voted on once the new Congress convenes, includes sweeping ethics reforms, increases accountability for the American people, and makes this House of Representatives the most inclusive in history. More information on these changes, text, and a section-by-section summary of the rules package are available here.
“As House Speaker, I am pleased to join Chairman Jim McGovern in introducing this visionary rules package, which reflects the views and values of the full range of our historically diverse House Democratic Majority,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Thanks to the leadership of Chairman McGovern and our Members, Democrats have crafted a package of unprecedented, bold reforms, which will make the House more accountable, transparent and effective in our work to meet the needs of the American people. These future-focused proposals reflect our priorities as a Caucus and as a Country – including crushing the coronavirus, addressing economic disparity, combating the climate crisis, advancing inclusion, and promoting integrity in government.”
“Through months of consultation across our caucus and Congress, we have developed a rules package that makes the People’s House more accountable and responsive to all Americans. This proposal doesn’t tinker around the edges of ethics reform. It contains historic ideas to protect whistleblowers and prevent everything from the undue influence of lawbreakers on the House Floor to the dissemination of deepfakes on government accounts. This proposal also shines a light on those struggling to get ahead in America today and ensures we remain focused on the most pressing issues facing our nation. I want to thank my colleagues, outside stakeholders, and all those who helped us develop these transformative ideas,” said Chairman McGovern.
The Democratic rules package includes the following changes:
It prioritizes ethics and accountability in the People’s House. That includes through changes that would remove floor privileges from former Members convicted of crimes related to their House service or election; make it a violation of the Code of Official Conduct for a Member, officer, or employee of the House to disclose the identity of a whistleblower; make it a violation of the Code of Official Conduct for a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House to disseminate manipulated media, including photos and videos, known as “deepfakes;” strengthen Truth in Testimony disclosures to provide Members and the public with more information on the witnesses appearing before committees; protect whistleblowers in the House from being retaliated against for providing truthful information; and make permanent an office dedicated to providing assistance and training to congressional staff in order to properly and securely handle whistleblowers who reach out to congressional offices.
It aligns Congress’ agenda with the priorities of the American people. That includes through changes that would: establish a Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth to prioritize our commitment to ensuring that no one is left behind in the 21st Century economy; enable the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis to continue its vital efforts to ensure that federal dollars meant to confront the coronavirus pandemic are spent without waste, fraud, profiteering, or price gouging; allow the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to continue developing ambitious solutions to confront the climate crisis; and ensure Congress can respond to the dual threats of the climate crisis and the COVID pandemic by exempting those bills from budget rules, while overall continuing to adhere to fiscal responsibility.
It creates a more accommodating process for ideas to be considered. That includes changes that would: make permanent changes made last Congress requiring bills that go through the Rules Committee to have a hearing and a markup before they go to the floor; preserve and reform the Motion to Recommit so this tool meant to improve bills is no longer used to hijack the legislative process for political gamesmanship; create a process for House Members to officially express their support for Senate bills; continue the bipartisan Select Committee to Modernize Congress; and reinstate temporary changes that enable remote voting by proxy and virtual committee work so Congress can continue its work as safely as possible during the coronavirus pandemic.
It promotes inclusion and diversity. That includes changes that would: establish the Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth; require standing committees to include in their oversight plans a discussion of how committee work over the forthcoming Congress will address issues of inequities on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, age, or national origin; honor all gender identities by changing pronouns and familial relationships in the House rules to be gender neutral; make permanent the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to facilitate a diverse workforce that is reflective of our Members and the districts they represent; and survey the diversity of witness panels at committee hearings to ensure we are hearing from diverse groups of experts as we craft legislation.
It embraces technology to make the House of Representatives function as efficiently as possible. That includes through changes that continue to broaden the availability of legislative documents in machine-readable formats, encouraging the development of an improved Committee Repository, make permanent the option to electronically submit committee reports; and require committees to post all amendments considered at mark-up online within 48 hours, increasing transparency of Congressional business for the American people.
This rules package is the result of extensive conversations with Members and Members-elect as well as feedback from the staffs of all House committees, the Office of the Parliamentarian, the Clerk of the House, the Sergeant at Arms, the Office of General Counsel, the Congressional Research Service, the Congressional Budget Office, and the Office of the Whistleblower Ombuds. It also incorporates ideas from outside groups that study these issues.