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Incoming Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) argued that the outcome of the 2006 elections was justification enough to move those bills as soon as possible. “We view the first 100 hours, essentially, as a mandate from the American people,” he told reporters.
In an ironic twist, a group of Republicans took a page out of Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) playbook and said Wednesday that they would reintroduce the Democrats’ “Minority Bill of Rights” as their own.
When asked why Republicans were now endorsing proposals they long ignored, incoming Chief Deputy Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) conceded the GOP had erred last year.
“In hindsight, I think [Pelosi] was right,” Cantor told reporters, adding that Pelosi is now the one ignoring the resolution, which would require more specific minority rights to control the floor, including the 24-hour requirement to review bills and conference reports.
Yet not all of the Democrats’ rules changes have sparked Republican ire. GOP aides conceded that provisions included in the package to institute pay as you go budget reforms and extend earmark reform language would muster some Republican support as stand-alone measures. But rule package votes historically tend to fall on strict party lines, and Friday’s anticipated vote should be no exception.
As a sign that Democrats on the Government Reform Committee will be taking advantage of their oversight responsibilities, the rules package also includes a provision to authorize the panel to broaden its deposition authority of certain staff members of the committee.
Democrats also are reverting certain committees back to their favored names, replacing much of what the GOP did when they took over. For instance, Education and the Workforce will now be Education and Labor; International Relations will now be Foreign Affairs; Resources will now be Natural Resources; Science will now be Science and Technology; and Government Reform will now be Oversight and Government Reform.
The House and Senate also agreed to both maintain 12 subcommittees on the powerful Appropriations panel, again reversing a GOP-led reform in the 109th Congress to reduce subcommittees and alter jurisdictions. The most significant change in the Appropriations structure will be the addition of a previously nonexistent subcommittee on financial services.
The House will start debate on the rules package today, and final passage is slated for Friday in anticipation of the 100-hours agenda, which begins next Tuesday.