Earlier this week, as I shared with you, 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. Ultimately, by a vote of 225-183, the Holman Rule was reinstated for calendar year 2018.
At the beginning of the current 115th Congress (2017–2018), House Republicans, as the majority party, adopted a set of rules of procedure for the House 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 those that reduce or zero out individual federal employee salaries and compensation (thereby effecting the removal of an individual). The Holman Rule change was put into effect in January 2017 by House leadership 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 on various appropriations bills.
It is concerning that the majority party of the House of Representative has moved to extend the Holman Rule into the second session of the 115th Congress, as it is likely to continue to be used to unfairly target federal employees and agencies based on political and policy differences, and further contributes to the breakdown of the deliberative legislative process.
NTEU joined with other federal employee organizations to oppose this move. Here is our letter for your review. I want to remind you that this rules procedure is limited to the House, and that many subsequent legislative actions, including conferencing with Senate-passed measures, are required before a bill becomes law. NTEU will be closely monitoring any instance where this tool can be used to harm the workforce for the remainder of the year.