Democrats Push Through House Rules Changes

Remote voting will be allowed until Feb. 18
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 4, 2021 5:54 PM CST
Democrats Tighten Control With House Rules Changes
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi waves the gavel during opening day of the 117th Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021.   (Tasos Katopodis/Pool via AP)

Democrats controlling the House moved Monday to tighten their hold over the chamber despite their narrow margin, ramming through a rules package that limits the potential for embarrassing votes and caters to the party's progressive wing by weakening deficit-neutrality requirements for legislation such as a "Green New Deal." The party-line vote also extended last year's proxy voting rules, which permit lawmakers to vote remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Democrats have freely used the new system, which maximized their voting participation while Republican leaders have urged their members to vote in person. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is beginning her fourth and likely final term as leader of the chamber, announced later Monday that remote voting would be permitted through Feb. 18.

The Democratic-imposed rules continue a years-long trend of eroding the powers of the House minority through revisions enacted every two years, the AP reports. Of particular concern now to Republicans are two changes: a plan to weaken GOP opportunities for end-stage amendments to bills, and a move to weaken "pay-as-you-go" rules that make it more difficult to pass legislation bloating the federal deficit. "It is all designed to take away the voice of 48 percent of this House chamber," said Minority Whip Steve Scalise. The Hill reports that Republicans also objected to a provision ordering gender-neutral language in the House rules, which changed the Office of the Whistleblower Ombudsman to the Office of the Whistleblower Ombuds.

(Read more House of Representatives stories.)

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