New House Rules Affect Funding, Voting, and Transparency

On Wednesday, the House passed H.R. 5, a measure that changes House rules covering an array of topics —  ranging from how new funding requirements must be offset, to how and when new bills and votes must be posted, to term limits for committee chairs.

The new Republican majority has expressed a determination to consider both the short and long term consequences of Federal spending.  Thus, there is now a new CUTGO program (cut as you go) that requires new spending to be offset with cuts to existing programs.  While Republicans support the new approach, Democrats are less supportive — suggesting that this is an “end run” around current pay-as-you-go policies and will increase the national debt.  However, the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget sees both pluses and minuses in the approach — approving the focus on long term spending and new reductions but cautioning that the new CUTGO plan will make it more difficult to find offsets for needed new spending.

The new legislation also calls for a public reading of the Constitution; reiterates six-year term limits for committee leaders; mandates that bills must be posted online at least three calendar days before a vote; that committee rules and votes must be posted; and that webcast hearings and markups must also be posted online.  The bill also eliminates the voting rights for territorial and Washington DC representatives during House meetings as a committee of the whole.