Update on House Rules Package for 115th Congress

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U.S. House of Representatives

Yesterday, the House of Representatives formally voted on its rules of procedure for the new Congress (2017-2018). As the majority party, the House Republican conference met on Monday evening to deliberate over and to finalize the rules package that was voted on yesterday by the whole House. The package passed by a vote of 234 to 193, with almost all Republicans supporting and all Democrats opposing.

As I shared yesterday, the draft package included a notable change for appropriations measures that affects federal agencies and federal employees. Under the Holman Rule, which originated in 1876 and was last abandoned in 1983, amendments would be allowed on appropriations measures that are legislative in nature (generally banned) and which could include reducing the number of federal employee positions at agencies, as well as to reduce federal employee salaries and compensation.

Congressmen Tom Cole (R-OK) and Rob Bishop (R-UT), senior members of the Republican caucus, offered an amendment on Monday evening to strike the Holman Rule from the draft Rules Package owing to their concern for random cuts to the federal workforce, and for the overall authorization and appropriations processes in the House. NTEU strongly supported this amendment, and contacted Republican offices to express our support for the Cole-Bishop amendment. However, the Cole-Bishop amendment failed on a voice vote, meaning the Holman Rule is now part of the official Rules Package that passed on the House floor yesterday. Federal-employee friendly legislators Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Don Beyer (D-VA), and John Delaney (D-MD) issued a press statement stating their strong opposition to this change.

Under the adopted rules, the Holman Rule is to be in place for calendar year 2017, with House leadership calling it a “pilot program.” As a reminder, the rules change is limited to the House, and many additional legislative actions, including conferencing with Senate-passed appropriations measures, are required before a bill becomes law.