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House Republicans, Democrats Readying to Lay Out Rules Changes

Although the House won’t reconvene until January, both Republicans and Democrats are moving forward with proposed rules changes in anticipation of the start of the 109th Congress.

The conservative Republican Study Committee plans to submit its list of proposed House rules changes to the GOP leadership this week in the hope that that they will be incorporated into the opening-day rules package next month.

The RSC’s 10-part package, a copy of which was obtained by Roll Call, contains several items designed to tighten fiscal accountability. They include repealing the so-called “Gephardt Rule” which makes it easier for Congress to increase the debt ceiling; requiring that all legislation include a cost estimate; and mandating that budget resolutions include a reserve fund for non-military emergency spending.

“I think this is a comprehensive effort to change the way we spend the people’s money,” said new RSC Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.).

The RSC’s proposal also includes two rules changes that concern the House floor. The first would allow House Members to directly refer to the Senate or to an individual Senator’s actions during floor debate. The second would give floor privileges to full-time staffers from any Congressional Member Organization — such as the RSC — with a membership of more than 30 lawmakers.

Across the aisle, the Democratic Steering Committee on Tuesday adopted a new internal Caucus rule to make the Financial Services Committee the party’s fourth exclusive panel beginning in the 109th Congress.

The rules change, which is designed to free up committee slots for junior Members, must still win approval by the Democratic Organization, Study and Review Committee and the full Caucus.

The rule would prevent future committee members from taking up residence on any other committee, in the same way that Members of the other exclusive panels – Appropriations, Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means – already are barred from multiple appointments.

The proposed rule would only affect Members appointed to Financial Services in the coming Congress and beyond. Those already on the panel could continue to hold multiple seats.

The Republican Conference is considering a similar change to Financial Service’s status in its own rules.

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