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Progressives announce opposition to Pelosi-backed rule changes

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez points finger.
Rep-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Photo: Rick Loomis via Getty Images

Top Democrats unveiled a series of proposed changes to House rules Tuesday night, including the creation of a select committee on climate change and an exemption to a ban on hats that would allow members to wear religious headwear on the floor of the House.

The big picture: The rules overhaul is already being opposed by progressive Democrats Ro Khanna and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who have said they will vote against the package because of the "pay as you go" (PAYGO) rule — which requires any increase in entitlement spending be offset by paring back other entitlement programs. If more than 16 Democrats defect and no Republicans vote for the package, the Democratic majority won’t be able to pass the package as is.

What they’re saying:

  • Khanna: "[PAYGO] is terrible economics. The austerians were wrong about the Great Recession and Great Depression. At some point, politicians need to learn from mistakes and read economic history."
  • Ocasio-Cortez: "PAYGO isn’t only bad economics, as Ro Khanna explains; it’s also a dark political maneuver designed to hamstring progress on healthcare and other legislation. We shouldn’t hinder ourselves from the start."

Other details of the package, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  • Requires annual ethics training for all members.
  • Prohibits members from serving on corporate boards.
  • Permits members to wear religious headscarves on the floor.
  • Creates two new select committees on the modernization of Congress and the climate crisis.
  • Requires members to pay for discrimination settlements.
  • Prohibits members and committee staffers from having sexual relationships with one another.
  • Requires indicted members to step back from committee and leadership positions.
  • Requires a majority of either party to start the process to oust the speaker, rather than just one member.
  • Limits power of the majority to block action on measures relating to the War Powers Act. House Republicans blocked action on plans that would end U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia’s role in the civil war in Yemen late last year.
  • Renews the "Gephardt Rule," which raises the debt ceiling automatically when the House passes a budget.
  • Eliminates dynamic scoring as a technique for predicting the effects of fiscal policy.
  • Requires pieces of legislation with the backing of at least 290 members to be debated and brought to the floor.

What's next: Voting on the rules package will be one of the first items on the agenda when Congress convenes on Thursday.