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House Democrats Make A Play To Remove Trump/GOP Power Within the Government

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Usually, the intricacies and technicalities of the way government works are about as boring as you might imagine – i.e. mind numbingly boring. Most of the time, even professional political commentators just gloss over all that painfully dull stuff and focus on the juicy bits, most of which seems to happen on Twitter these days.

However, on this particular occasion, there is something within the boring procedural stuff that is actually quite fascinating. In short, the House Democrats (who recently retook control!) are bringing to the floor a package of new rules for the way Congress works as an attempt to directly undermine the influence of President Trump’s administration and the power of the GOP. Now, normally, we at Blue Side Nation would not have the faintest clue what is going on here. Thankfully, though, the experts over at Vox have broken it down so that we and you can fully understand the momentousness of this extremely consequential manouevre.

Much of what is in this package can be viewed as a direct rebuke to Republicans’ style of governing during their years in the majority.

There are a number of significant changes to rules surrounding the budget, which House Republicans have used to cut government spending over the years. Democrats plan to bring back the Gephardt Rule, which makes it easier to raise the debt ceiling when Congress passes a budget.

They’re also replacing a Republican pay-as-you-go rule — “cut-go” — which requires spending to be offset with budget cuts (a rule that’s often waived), with a provision that says spending can also be offset with tax increases.

Democrats’ rule establishes a “point of order” against any bill that increases the deficit over 10 years, unless the spending is designated as an “emergency.” The point of order can be waived with a House majority.

But PAYGO, in particular, has the potential to set off a revolt from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Already, at least two members, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and incoming Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), are threatening to vote against a rules package that includes PAYGO.

Democrats are also essentially trying to make the process of legislating more democratic. For instance, if a bill has 290 co-sponsors, it will automatically be up for consideration in committee and have a path to the House floor.

“This really came out of, we kept getting measures where we knew we would have enough votes to get to the House floor for debate and a vote, but you couldn’t get these things like immigration reform, in particular, actually to the floor,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) told me. “We all started saying, ‘This is absurd.’”

Members of Congress will also have 72 hours to read major pieces of legislation before they go to the floor for a vote (a direct counter to Republicans jamming through the tax bill and other massive bills just hours after the final version was introduced).

Democrats are also proposing to get rid of the “motion to vacate the chair” rule, which allows any member of Congress propose the speaker be removed. House Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) used this to try to get rid of former House Speaker John Boehner in 2013, and Democrats don’t want to risk conservatives trying the same thing with likely incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“That threat really disrupts the will of the majority,” Gottheimer said.

There are a lot of other things as well — new provisions requiring members accused of sexual harassment to settle claims with their own money rather than taxpayer dollars, allowing members to wear religious headdress including headscarves, and banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

I sincerely hope this new rules package passes, especially as most of it appears to be totally basic stuff that should have been implemented about half a million years ago. Like banning homophobic discrimination – how in holy hell is that not already a thing? Not to worry, though – with Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the helm, very little can go wrong.


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