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The symbol for gender-neutral restrooms at a facility in South Africa. Photo: Michele Spatari/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. House of Representatives is poised to rewrite its rules — swapping out male and female references like "he" and "she" for gender-neutral terms — in a diversity and inclusion push by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats that's drawing scorn from Republicans.

Why it matters: The proposal comes as transgender and non-binary candidates are being elected around the country, progressives are gaining influence in the Democratic politics and U.S. schools and companies are adjusting policies and language to reflect society's changing views on sexuality and gender identification.

  • The proposed changes were announced Friday ahead of two pivotal runoffs in Georgia on Jan. 5 to decide which party controls the Senate — and could stoke turnout among its supporters or opponents.
  • Members are expected to consider the package next week.

The big picture: The package announced by Pelosi and House Rules Chair Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) also includes whistleblower protections, removes floor privileges for former members convicted of certain crimes, and blocks Republicans from some last-minute amendments.

  • It establishes a select committee on economic disparity, and would make permanent an Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

But it's the gender-inclusive language that's drawing the most early attention. "He" or "she" would become "Member," "Delegate" or "Resident Commissioner." And "father" and "mother" would become "parent" while "brother" and "sister" would be "sibling."

The other side: Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called the measure "stupid" in a tweet Friday night and sarcastically added, "Signed, - A father, son, and brother"

  • McGovern told Axios in a statement: “It is ridiculous that in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, this is what some on the extreme right want to fight about...only in Congress would it be a scandal to be succinct. We are being inclusive, efficient and accurate.”

Between the lines: The change could close a potential ethics loophole if a non-binary person is involved in a conflict involving a lawmaker. The rule text change makes it clear everyone regardless of gender identification or orientation is subject to ethics regulations.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Pelosi says House "will proceed" with Trump impeachment action

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a press conference on Capitol Hill Thursday. Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) outlined plans Sunday to move ahead with legislation to impeach President Trump over last week's siege at the U.S. capitol.

Driving the news: Pelosi said in a letter to Democrats the House will on Monday work to pass a resolution designed to press Vice President Mike Pence to "convene and mobilize the Cabinet to activate the 25th Amendment to declare the President incapable of executing the duties of his office."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.