As a part of the transition to the new Congress, the House of Representatives recently voted on new rules for the 112th Congress. The resolution, H.Res. 5, which passed on a party line vote (240-191) after a day of debate, will modify the rules of the House in some key ways. You can read a section-by-section analysis of all of the changes from the Rules Committee, but below are some notable changes to the operations of the House of Representatives:
Constitutional Authority Requirement. Every bill that is introduced in the 112th Congress must now be accompanied by a statement that cites the section or sections of the Constitution that give Congress the power to enact the bill. Bills sent over from the Senate must also be accompanied by a statement of Constitutional authority.
Changing Pay-go to Cut-go. The new rules replace the previous ‘pay-as-you-go’ or PAYGO requirement with a ‘cut-as-you-go’ or cut-go requirement. Cut-go prohibits the House from considering any bill that produces a net increase in mandatory spending within the 1-year, 5-year and 10-year budget windows, as opposed to PAYGO’s ten-year window. If a bill increases mandatory spending by any amount, the bill must cut the budget somewhere by that same amount. Under PAYGO, spending cuts could serve as offsets to spending increases, however, revenue increases could also serve as offsets. Under he ‘cut-go’ rule increases in revenue cannot be used to offset increases in mandatory spending.
Using Budget Committee Estimates. Gives authority to Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (WI) to provide estimates about a bill’s cost and revenue impacts. Additionally, gives unilateral authority to Chairman Ryan to set budget ceilings for 2011.
Increasing Transparency. The new rules require legislation be available to the public and online before the full House or any committees act on it. Bill text must be available at least 1 day before a committee markup and at least 3 days before a full House vote. Votes must be available publicly shortly after being cast, and where possible, committee meetings and hearings will be broadcast and publicly available.
Paring Down the Rights of the Delegates on the House Floor. The new rules strip the rights of Delegates and Resident Commissioners to preside over the full House, and to cast non-decisive votes when the House is in the “Committee of the Whole. Although these members did not have full voting rights in the House in the previous Congress, they did have the ability to cast these non-determinative symbolic votes. Delegates and Resident Commissioners may now only vote in committee, not the Committee of the Whole House.
Requiring a Vote to Raise the National Debt Ceiling. The House will now have to take a separate floor vote on whether to raise the national debt limit and allow the federal government to borrow more money.
While the House’s new rules come into effect, the Senate is still considering and negotiating changes to the rules of their chamber, with a vote expected on a new rules package toward the end of January. Stay tuned to Health Centers on the Hill for updates on the Senate rules and all the latest information on the House and Senate in the 112th.