Tuesday, January 6: House Rules Package for the 111th Congress

To kick this blog off, what better place to start than the package that generated the need for this blog in the first place. On Tuesday January 6, 2009, the 111th Congress was sworn into office. That day, the Democratic majority passed H.Res. 5the House Rules Package for the 111th Congress by a vote of 242-181. It should be noted that the Democrats number 257 in the House to the Republican 178, so it passed pretty much along party lines.

This unprecedented and restrictive rules package limits the Minority’s motion to recommit, repeals term limits for entrenched Committee chairs, and turns off the Medicare cost containment procedure, designed to make it easier to pass medical liability reforms and a means-test for wealthy Medicare prescription drug recipients to pay more of their fair share.

Key Points:


Takes away the minority’s ability to offer “promptly” Motions to Recommit (i.e. the legislation is referred back to committee). This limits the ability of Members to strike tax increases from legislation, since a “forthwith” motion to recommit would have to include tax increases to comply with PAYGO (reforms to the spending side of the budget would not be germane). The ability of Republicans to offer “promptly” motions to recommit on tax bills has added significance since the current practice of the Rules Committee is to restrict the ability of Members to offer amendments to tax bills.

By prohibiting Republicans from offering a motion that sends a bill back to committee, the Majority will prevent Republicans from seeking to strip their growth-stifling tax increases. Tax increases will now be protected from separate votes; Democrats will be able to avoid even having to vote on their tax increases. And, it requires all motions to recommit with instructions comply with paygo, even if the underlying bill does not.


Repeals term limits on committee chairmen, currently 6 years, which will lead to cronyism.


Adds a PAYGO “emergency exception” which allows the Majority to call any legislation an “emergency” response and thus not have to comply with PAYGO. This allows the Democrats to claim they have never violated or “waived” PAYGO.

For Democratic leadership that prided itself on transparency and bipartisanship, this package is  a strange way to kick off the 111th Congress!

PASSED: 242-181


Published in: on January 15, 2009 at 7:29 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you so much for starting this blog. I’ve tried to find out exactly what is going on in Congress(maybe I didn’t try hard enough) but it wasn’t presented in a helpful way like this.
    Unfortunately, it’s kind of depressing to see what’s happening. But it’s good to know. Thanks again!

  2. We need more leaders like Michele, but honestly, PLEASE proof read your blog entries before posting live. There are several grammar errors that detract from the site’s credibility.

  3. Michele,
    Thank you so much for all that you do! The things being done by this Congress are outrageous! First,they allow the economy to slide into deep recession in time for the presidential election (yes, we noticed)and now they want to spend billions on their pet projects instead of helping the people. Come election time, we will not forget this. Thank God for the courage of Republican senators who are trying to look out for us. Next, let’s kill the fairness doctrine since it has nothing to do with fairness. We’re counting on you!

  4. I can tell that this is not the first time at all that you mention the topic. Why have you decided to touch it again?

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