house rules

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).

Selfies on the Floor: Members-Elect Break the Rules While They Still Can

Members-elect took tons of selfies in the House chamber, breaking the rules before they're bound by them. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Freshman orientation has been full of selfies as the newly elected members of the 116th Congress get to know their classmates and surroundings on Capitol Hill. But many have been breaking a well-known House rule against photos in the House chamber.

At least eight incoming House members posted selfies in the House chamber to their social media accounts on Tuesday. Maybe the newcomers haven’t been briefed on the rules of decorum in the House, or maybe they got a pass during the exciting orientation tours.  

Democrats Win House Majority; Here’s What They’ll Do With It
Government overhaul first legislative item, followed by quick action on Dreamer protections, gun control

Now that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and her party are back in power, they have several legislative priorities they wish to pursue. (Margaret Spencer/ CQ Roll Call)

Democrats have been abundantly clear about the top items that would be on their agenda if voters were to put them in the House majority, ranging from a campaign finance overhaul to legislation designed to reduce health care costs. 

Now that the midterm results have confirmed Democrats have won the House, here’s what you can expect with them in control next Congress. 

More Problem Solvers Members Pledge to Tie Speaker Vote to Rule Changes
Bipartisan caucus now has 19 members ready to oppose a candidate for speaker if they don’t back process changes

Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., and the other members of the Problem Solvers Caucus say they are gaining support for the effort to revamp House rules. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Trying to show their push to amend House rules to create more bipartisan legislative processes is serious, the Problem Solvers Caucus announced Thursday that 19 of its members are willing to oppose any speaker candidate who won’t bring about change.

The bipartisan caucus unveiled a package of proposed House rules changes in July called “Break the Gridlock” and has been coalescing support for it on both sides of the aisle. Some of the caucus members have decided to add some oomph to their sales pitch by pledging not to support a candidate for speaker unless that person commits to enacting the rules package.