Last night, the House Rules Committee advanced legislation out of committee to the House floor that included an unrelated change (Section 5 of H. Res. 787) to the standing rules of the House of Representatives.
At the beginning of the current 115th Congress (2017–2018), House Republicans, as the majority party, adopted a set of rules of procedure that included a change for appropriations measures that re-established the so-called “Holman Rule,” which was first used in 1876 and later abandoned in 1983. Under the Holman Rule, amendments are allowed on appropriations measures that are legislative in nature (generally banned), and of greatest concern, amendments are also in order that seek to reduce the number of federal employee positions at agencies, as well as to reduce or zero out individual federal employee salaries and compensation. The Holman Rule change was put into effect only for calendar year 2017 (the first session of the 115th Congress), and during that time several attempts were made to negatively affect the federal workforce through its use.
It is concerning that the majority party of the House of Representative is now seeking to reinstitute the Holman Rule for calendar year 2018 (the second session of the 115th Congress), as it is not only used to unfairly target federal employees and agencies based on political and policy differences, but it also results in a breakdown of the overall deliberative legislative process, further eroding Congress’ ability to fund agencies and perform their constitutional role.
I will keep you updated on further developments. I do want to remind you that this sought-after rules procedure and change is limited to the House, and that many subsequent legislative actions, including conferencing with Senate-passed measures, are required before a bill becomes law.