Newhouse: House Democratic rules ‘slap in the face of rural Americans’
On Monday, Jan. 4, House Democrats passed their package of rules for the operation of the House for the next two years, but in what may be a sign of partisan politics to come, Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., the chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus, called the rules “a slap in the face of rural Americans.”
The vote on the rules package was 217-206.
In a joint news release, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said the package “includes sweeping ethics reforms, increases accountability for the American people, and makes this House of Representatives the most inclusive in history.”
Pelosi and McGovern said the package:
▪ Prioritizes ethics and accountability in the People’s House.
▪ Aligns Congress’ agenda with the priorities of the American people.
▪ Creates a more accommodating process for ideas to be considered.
▪ Promotes inclusion and diversity.
▪ Embraces technology to make the House of Representatives function as efficiently as possible.
The Hill noted, “The package includes language that would make significant changes to the motion to recommit, a procedural tool used by the minority party to alter bills at the eleventh hour on the floor. Instead of amending legislation ahead of the final vote, bills would be sent back to committee.”
“Republicans — who have successfully utilized the motion to make vulnerable Democrats take hard votes and highlight divisions within the Democratic party over the last two years — slammed the move as a power grab and an attempt to silence debate,” The Hill added.
The Hill also noted that the the package includes “a compromise between centrists and progressives that allows the House Budget Committee chair to eliminate the pay-as-you-go budgetary rules — which require offsets for deficit-increasing legislation — on bills involving health or economic relief related to the pandemic or combating global warming.”
But in a floor speech, Newhouse said, “Madam Speaker, Democrats’ proposed changes to the House rules will disenfranchise rural America, plain and simple.”
“In addition to throwing out budget rules to make way for socialist packages like the Green New Deal, Democrats are gutting the motion to recommit, an important tool for the minority to make substantive amendments to legislation.”
Newhouse said, “Past Republican motions to recommit have sought to:
▪ Restore funding for critical rural broadband programs;
▪ Allow for more effective wildfire mitigation and increased funding for hazardous fuels reduction in our nation’s forests;
▪ And an MTR to protect our farmers and agricultural employers from being sued out of business.
▪ Eliminating this opportunity to amend legislation further diminishes the voices of rural communities, and — frankly — it is a slap in the face of rural Americans.”
“It’s clear: Speaker Pelosi’s Democrat majority — albeit a heck of a lot slimmer than it was — is threatened by our reinvigorated Republican Conference,” Newhouse said. “Rural Americans deserve better.”
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