house rules

On DREAM Act, 9 Democrats defect on rule vote, even as caucus shows more unity
Relatively rare for members of the majority to buck leadership in voting against a rule

Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., was one of nine Democrats voting against the rule for the DREAM Act on Tuesday, a high-water mark for the year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House votes on rules to begin debate on legislation are typically party-line tests. But when nine Democrats voted Tuesday against the rule for an immigration bill, it was a high-water mark for Democratic defections this year.

Still, Democrats are more unified on such votes than the House majority party has been in all but two years of the last decade. 

Judiciary Democrats may ask full House to formally approve their investigation into Trump
Jackson Lee says she thinks it is time for a resolution of investigation

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, says House Judiciary Committee Democrats may file a resolution of investigation to have the full House vote to approve the panel's probe into potential obstruction of justice and abuses of power by the Trump administration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Some Judiciary Committee Democrats, concerned about the Trump administration escalating its stonewalling into their investigation of potential obstruction of justice and abuses of power by the president and his associates, want the full House to approve their probe. 

“I believe we are at a point now that we should issue a resolution of investigation,” senior Judiciary member Shelia Jackson Lee said Thursday.

House Democrats show improved response to Republican messaging votes
Democrats easily defeated a Republican motion to recommit Friday to their HR 1 government overhaul

Rep. Max Rose, D-N.Y., center, had voted for several Republican motions to recommit this year but he argued against the one the GOP offered to HR 1 Friday, calling it a “joke.” Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., right, meanwhile was one of six Democrats who voted with Republicans on that motion. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats seem to have sharpened their response to Republican motions to recommit after the GOP twice bested the new majority using the procedural tool this year.

The improved messaging and whip operations around motions to recommit, or MTRs, since Democrats lost a second one early last week on a priority gun control bill seem to have quelled an immediate desire to overhaul the procedural tool.

First big bipartisan vote establishes House select committee on modernizing Congress
Washington Democrat Derek Kilmer will chair the select committee

Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., center, purple tie, will chair the new select committee on modernizing Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Taking its first bipartisan vote of the 116th Congress, the House voted Friday to establish a select committee to come up with recommendations for modernizing the legislative branch. 

The 418-12 bipartisan vote was even more significant because it is part of the House Democrats’ rules package. House rules are crafted by the majority party, and they rarely draw votes from the minority.

House adopts rules package with few Democratic defections over PAYGO provision
Package establishes two select committees, requires committee action before floor votes, among other changes

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., swears in members in the House chamber on the first day of the 116th Congress on Jan. 3, 2019. Later that afternoon the House adopted its rules package for new Congress. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House on Thursday adopted the bulk of a rules package for the 116th Congress that featured dozens of changes designed to restore more committee and bipartisan involvement in the legislative process, increase transparency and clamp down on ethics violations. 

The measure, adopted 234 to 197, was crafted by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rules Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., with input from members across all factions of the House Democratic majority.

Opposition to Pay-As-You-Go Proposal Prevents Unity on House Democrats’ Rules Package
Other changes designed to open up the legislative process have broad support

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., said he will oppose House Democrats’ rules package for the 116th Congress because of a provision known as pay-as-you-go or PAYGO that requires offsets for deficit increasing legislation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats’ rules for the 116th Congress contain a wide array of consensus changes, but a pay-as-you-go provision that would require offsets for deficit-increasing legislation is preventing party unity on the package. 

At least two progressive members, California Rep. Ro Khanna and New York Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said they will oppose the rules package because of the provision. 

Problem Solvers to Back Pelosi for Speaker After Reaching Agreement on Rules Changes
Move further whittles down California Democrat’s opposition

Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, and other Democrats from that group who have been leveraging their speaker votes for changes to House rules, reached an agreement with Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 9:39 p.m. | Democrats in the Problem Solvers Caucus extracted concessions from Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday regarding changes to House rules in exchange for support from eight holdouts for her speaker bid. 

The agreement came early in the afternoon right as the Democratic Caucus reconvened their leadership elections and began the process for nominating Pelosi for speaker. She’s expected to win that simple-majority vote but has a tougher hurdle to climb heading into a Jan. 3 vote on the floor where she’ll need a majority of the House. 

After 181 Years of No Hats in Congress, Dems Eye Exception for Religious Garb
Ilhan Omar will become the first federal legislator to wear a religious headscarf

Member-elect Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., will be the first member of congress to wear a hijab. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Hats have been banned from the House chamber of the Capitol for nearly two centuries — 181 years, to be exact. Under a new proposal from Democrats, the rule would be relaxed to allow religious headwear, like a hijab or kippah. 

The change was proposed jointly by Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Incoming Rules Chairman Jim McGovern and member-elect Ilhan Omar as part of a larger overhaul package.

Democrats’ Draft House Rules Would Return Some Regular Order
All major bills going through committee is just one of many rule changes proposed

Incoming Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., presented draft proposals for overhauling House rules to the Democratic Caucus on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats’ draft proposals for overhauling the House rules would return at least some so-called regular order processes to the lower chamber by ensuring major bills go through committee before hitting the floor. 

The requirement that all bills being brought to the floor under a rule must have gone through a committee hearing and markup is just one of several notable changes Democrats are floating to House rules now that they’ll be in the majority. 

House Republicans Propose Punishments for Indicted Members
Chris Collins, Duncan Hunter cases pushed issue to the fore

House Republicans propose to strip indicted colleagues of committee and leadership roles. (Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call).