If we want to understand what is changing in the District of Columbia we need to grasp the changes the Democrats have made in the Rules of the House of Representatives. Ready Here goes.
1. Motion to Vacate the Chair
Under current House rules, a Member may offer a privileged motion to vacate the chair which has the effect of removing the person serving as Speaker of the House. Once made the motion forces a vote on the House floor. The proposed rule change would only allow the motion to vacate to have “privileged” status if it first receives a majority vote by either party. Because party leaders have substantial ability to control the votes within party meetings, this would effectively remove the opportunity for Members of Congress to hold a Speaker of the House accountable for the 116th Congress.
2. Consensus Calendar
All legislation in the House that passes a committee is added to one of three legislative calendars for consideration of the legislation in the full House. The proposed rule change adds one additional calendar referred to as the Consensus Calendar and requires that the House consider the bill on the floor. For a bill to be eligible for the new calendar, it must have accumulated 290 cosponsors. This proposal will likely have the effect of empowering moderates to the detriment of both conservatives and leftists.
3. Economic Impacts of Taxes
Legislation that changes federal government revenues has to be “scored” or receive an economic impact estimate from the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT). Currently, JCT produces two scores: a simple outlining of the number of dollars the bill will increase or decrease federal revenues (known as a static score) and a macroeconomic analysis of how the bill will impact other aspects of the economy (known as a dynamic score). In addition, House rules prohibit a bill that raises income taxes from passing unless it receives a ⅗ supermajority vote. The proposed rule change eliminates the dynamic scoring requirement as well as the required supermajority vote for raising taxes. Combined, these two changes make it harder to reduce taxes and easier to increase taxes on Americans.
4. Increase in Budget Authority
The federal government is funded through 12 annual appropriations bills. Each bill establishes a certain level of spending known as budget authority. The current House rules prohibit amendments that increase a bill’s budget authority. The proposed rule change will eliminate the point of order against amendments that increase an appropriation bill’s budget authority. This will allow amendments that increase spending in a government program without offsetting that increase by reducing spending in a different government program.
5. Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Rules that govern employment practices in the House mirror federal civil rights laws. Members of Congress are held to the exact same standards as civilian employers. The proposed rule change will add employment protections for employees based upon their sexual orientation or gender identity. This could force Members who hold traditional views on sexual orientation and gender to hire employees that disagree with the Member’s religious and sincerely held beliefs or political views.
6. Gephardt Rule and the Debt Limit
The federal government incurs debt under a law that places a limit on the dollar amount of debt. This is referred to as the statutory debt limit. When the debt limit has been reached, the Congress must pass into law a new debt limit before the U.S. Treasury may increase the federal debt. The proposed rule change eliminates a separate vote on increasing the statutory debt limit in the House by “deeming” a debt limit increase to be passed by the House without Members having to vote on the increase. The effect of this change will be to shield Members from the accountability of their vote to further increase the indebtedness of the nation.
7. Legal Defense of Liberal Policies
The House and/or Senate will, from time to time, seek to intervene in federal court cases that impact the rights of the Congress. Under Speaker Boehner, the House engaged in litigation regarding the Obama Administration’s abuse of presidential powers. In order to authorize litigation, the House passes a resolution authorizing the Speaker to do so. The proposed rule change eliminates the need to pass a separate resolution authorizing litigation and instead empowers Speaker Pelosi to initiate legal action on her own. This means she is automatically authorized to fight in the courts to preserve Obamacare and to oppose President Trump’s efforts to reform the food stamp program. The effect of this rule change will be to allow Speaker Pelosi to speak for all Members of the House in court in support of partisan, liberal policies.
8. Select Committee on Climate Change
The House has 21 permanent or standing committees along with four joint committees with the Senate. There are also select committees established on occasion that are tasked with specific policy goals. The proposed rule change establishes a new select committee tasked with investigating and developing recommendations to solve the “climate crisis.”
It will be harder to force out the Speaker. The Speaker is automatically authorized to fight in the courts on behalf of all Members of the House. It will be harder to cut taxes and easier to raise them. It will be easier to increase spending without offsetting the increase with reductions elsewhere. Congress shielded its members from the accountability for their votes to increase the national debt. A new select committee is formed to investigate and developing recommendations to solve the “climate crisis.” There will be a new calendar which is unlikely to see much use. If you wanted less transparency, higher taxes, higher spending, less accountability and more debt you did just the right thing in supporting the Democrats.