House Dems Fight Over Pay-Go Rule Changes

House Dems Fight Over Pay-Go Rule Changes

House Dems Fight Over Pay-Go Rule Changes

Democrats believe under an obscure IRS rule, the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Richard Neal of MA, has the power to obtain the returns from the Treasury Department.

Several provisions could also make it easier for House Democrats to pass legislation rolling back all or part of the GOP tax cuts, which Democrats have pledged to revisit once they officially assume the majority in the House.

Another notable provision would change the process to "vacate the chair", a process to force out the speaker.

That would take away power from ideological firebrands, but this week, caucus liberals such as Khanna and Ocasio-Cortez - and activists on the political left - focused their ire on the PAYGO proposal. More importantly, for the short term, the House can not proceed with legislative business at the start of each new Congress until the rules are settled.

Among other provisions, the package includes a section saying that legislative text has to be publicly available for 72 hours before a bill is considered in the House, and another saying that bills with broad support from members will be placed on a special priority calendar. The deficit jumped by 17 percent in 2018, after the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul passed in 2017.

"We shouldn't hinder ourselves from the start", Ocasio-Cortez concluded. The austerians were wrong about the Great Recession and Great Depression.

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Rep. Tim Ryan (D., Ohio), a former Pelosi foe, also came out against the pay-go rule but didn't say he would vote against the rules package entirely. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the bonuses and salary hikes companies gave to their workers as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act "crumbs" a year ago and said the legislation would lead to "Armageddon".

Newly elected progressive House Democrats, especially Ocasio-Cortez, have already proved themselves to be powerful rebels against Pelosi.

"We must not handcuff our new Democratic majority, so PAYGO is a no go for me", Ryan said. "That is why we will be introducing legislation in the 116th Congress to end PAYGO". Only 18 Democrats need to oppose it to prevent the new rules from passing.

The PAYGO rules date back almost 30 years, to Congress' initial attempts to rein in the budget deficits of the 1980s. Sixteen current and incoming House Democrats signed a letter in November saying they believed, "more strongly than ever that the time has come for new leadership". But Republicans never included the measure in House rules, and the law has been repeatedly waived over the years - making its practical effect questionable.

Khanna was the first Democrat to say Wednesday that he wouldn't vote for the bill, dubbing it "terrible economics". The rules package also would remove term limits from committee chairmanships and establish a climate-change committee.

This article was written by Jeff Stein and Mike DeBonis, reporters for The Washington Post.

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