Wednesday 22 December 2010

New Rules for the House of Representatives

A summary of the rule changes which the new Republican majority will propose has been posted on the Politico website

* Former members of Congress who are lobbyists will be banned from using the House gym

* The so-called Gephardt rule, which allows the House to automatically pass a debt-limit increase upon adoption of a conference report on the budget -- without a separate vote -- will be eliminated.
* A bill reducing House operating costs will be made in order for Jan. 6.
* The names of three committees are changing: They will be the Committee on Ethics (which means reporters will no longer have to write out the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct -- ah, it feels good to say goodbye to that one), the Committee on Education and the Workforce, and the Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
* Committees will have to circulate text of legislation at least 24 hours before considering it, they will have to post members' attendance records online and they will post 'truth in testimony' statements identifying any potential conflicts of interest for witnesses.
* Democratic PAY/GO will be replaced with Republican CUT/GO, which requires spending offsets to be found for any increases in mandatory programs -- those like Social Security and Medicare which require the federal government to make payouts to an unlimited number of people or entities based on them meeting eligibility requirements. Tax increases won't count as offsets, according to the summary provided by House Republicans.
* Delegates and resident commissioners will no longer be allowed to vote on amendments on the House floor.
* The majority will reserve bill numbers HR 11 through HR 20 for the minority.
* The Constitution will be read aloud -- or at least may be read aloud -- on Jan. 6.

The Washington Post reports that the new rules will be posted online ahead of a Jan. 4 organizational meeting of the Republican Conference. At that meeting, House Republicans will be able to offer amendments to the new rules.