House approves new Dem rules package

The House on Thursday approved a Democratic rules package with just a few defections from progressives despite concerns on the left about the resolution’s “pay-as-you-go” provision.

The rules were approved by a largely party-line vote of 234-197. The House will take up two additional portions of the package in coming days.

Three Republicans, Reps. Tom ReedThomas (Tom) W. ReedA rare display of real political courage Overnight Health Care: Dems hit GOP with ObamaCare lawsuit vote | GOP seeks health care reboot after 2018 losses | House Dems aim for early victories on drug pricing | CDC declares lettuce e-coli outbreak over Dems hit GOP on health care with additional ObamaCare lawsuit vote MORE and John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoOn The Money: Shutdown Day 25 | Dems reject White House invite for talks | Leaders nix recess with no deal | McConnell blocks second House Dem funding bill | IRS workers called back for tax-filing season | Senate bucks Trump on Russia sanctions Latest funding bill to reopen the government fails in House Democrats turn down White House invitation for shutdown talks MORE of New York and Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickLatest funding bill to reopen the government fails in House GOP maps out early 2020 strategy to retake House A rare display of real political courage MORE (Pa.) voted for the package. Three Democrats, Reps. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaDem rep proposes Trump, Congress hire mediators to resolve shutdown Blue states buck Trump to expand health coverage Ocasio-Cortez sparks debate with talk of 70 percent marginal rate MORE (Calif.), Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardTulsi Gabbard apologizes for past LGBT remarks in new video Howard Dean to CNN: All Dem candidates qualified to be president except Tulsi Gabbard Openly gay lawmaker defends Gabbard over past LGBT comments MORE (Hawaii) and Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOn The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction The battle of energy-economic narratives is tainting the Green New Deal Ocasio-Cortez: 'At what point is Fox News obligated to not lie?' MORE (N.Y.) voted against it.

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The architects of the package — which was unveiled by new Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiOvernight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal McConnell blocks bill to reopen most of government Overnight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All' MORE (D-Calif.) and Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) earlier this week — said it will promote diversity and help fight the deficit.

Under the new rules, lawmakers and House employees are barred from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Members and staff are also be permitted to wear religious headgear in the House chamber.

And the rules allow for the creation of a House Financial Services subcommittee to address diversity in the financial industry.

The rules package also would reinstate the “Gephardt rule,” named after former Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.), which would result in the House automatically passing a resolution suspending the debt limit when the chamber adopts a budget resolution.

And it includes some legislative-process reforms, including one that requires bills to be publicly available for 72 hours before the House votes on them.

One budgetary rule faced sharp backlash from progressive members of the caucus, including Khanna and Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Critics argued the "pay-as-you-go" provision, which requires a point of order against any bill that raises the deficit or reduces a surplus, could create additional hurdles in accomplishing their legislative priorities in areas like health care. The rule is able to be waived and emergency funding bills would be exempt.

“I will be voting NO on the Rules package with #PayGo. It is terrible economics. The austerians were wrong about the Great Recession and Great Depression. At some point, politicians need to learn from mistakes and read economic history,” Khanna tweeted Wednesday.

But many other progressive lawmakers voted for the rules, despite their concerns over pay-as-you-go. Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs Mark PocanMark William PocanDems offer measure to raise minimum wage to per hour House Dems to introduce minimum wage bill Congress poised to push back at Trump on Saudi Arabia, Syria MORE (D-Wis.) and Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalWomen's March plans 'Medicare for All' day of lobbying in DC MoveOn leaders stepping down before 2020 election Blue states buck Trump to expand health coverage MORE (D-Wash.) said they would vote for the rules package because they received assurances that pay-go could be waived.

"Chairman McGovern and House Leadership have committed to us that PAYGO will not be an impediment to advancing key progressive priorities in the 116th Congress," Pocan and Jayapal said in a statement Wednesday.

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said voting against the House Democrats’ rules “is a vote to let Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyThe Hill's Morning Report — Shutdown fallout — economic distress On The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Former PepsiCo CEO being considered for World Bank chief post: report MORE make across the board cuts, unilaterally reversing Democratic initiatives and funding increases.” Mulvaney is now the president's chief of staff.

McGovern praised the package for its inclusion of ideas from members from different factions of the caucus, adding he thinks it should serve as an example for other branches of government.

“The Senate will work its will and the president may still reach for his phone to tweet insults and name-call. But we can and we should be the example of how Congress should operate," he said during debate on the floor. "And I'm proud that this Democratic majority has developed a historic rules package that will immediately help restore integrity to this institution."

Rules Committee ranking member Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeBottom Line Dems hit GOP on health care with additional ObamaCare lawsuit vote Overnight Health Care: House files motion to defend ObamaCare in lawsuit | Trump Medicaid director leaving after three months MORE (R-Okla.) said while there are elements of the rules package he’s supportive of, he feels it prioritizes Democratic goals and therefore he can’t support it.
“There are some good, bipartisan ideas in this package for improving the institution but on the whole, the package reflects only Democrat priorities and for that reason, I will be opposing it,” he said on the floor.

While the Democrats’ rules largely lack Republican support, Reed, who is co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, bucked his party's leadership and joined Democrats in voting for it on the floor.

“This is a step in the right direction, and I want to show that it’s time for both sides of the aisle to set aside this partisanship and start working together,” Reed told The Washington Post on Wednesday. “I’m glad to support them.”

Two additional portions of House Democrats’ rules package will be considered in the near future. A portion to establish a select committee on modernizing Congress is expected to be considered Friday, and a portion authorizing Pelosi to intervene in court cases involving ObamaCare is expected to be considered next week.

Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyTexas governor, top lawmakers tell Trump not to use hurricane relief funds to build border wall Trump on declaring national emergency: 'Not going to do it so fast' Dems look to chip away at Trump tax reform law MORE (Texas), the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, offered a motion to refer the rule governing the rules package to a select committee, in an effort to make permanent the increased standard deduction and expanded child tax credit contained in President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build Trump Tower in Moscow during 2016 campaign: report DC train system losing 0k per day during government shutdown Senate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees MORE’s tax law. But House Democrats approved a motion to table Brady’s motion.

—Niv Elis contributed.