Friday, 22 March, 2019

House Democrats roll out rules package for new Congress

Some progressive Democrats announce opposition to new House rules What is Paygo? Why progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez oppose Pelosi's rule
Anna Jefferson | 03 January, 2019, 14:10

The issue at hand is called "pay-as-you-go", or "Paygo", and it essentially requires that all new spending proposed by the House be offset either by tax increases or budget cuts. First, John Boehner, R-Ohio, then Paul Ryan, R-Wis., faced steady threats from conservatives about forcing them out of office through these means.

The liberal hard-liners argue that PAYGO amounts to a legislative straitjacket that could impede their efforts to pass ambitious social programs. The deficit jumped by 17 percent in 2018, after the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul passed in 2017. In her tweet, Ocasio-Cortez said that the PAYGO rule is a "dark political maneuver created to hamstring progress on healthcare" and other legislation. Many Democrats don't like the paygo policy but are willing to support the overall rules package because they favor other provisions. "We shouldn't hinder ourselves from the start", she added. Democratic leaders can lose as many 17 votes within their ranks and still pass the rules package, which is usually a mundane vote for House majorities. Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described democratic socialist, has become a star on the left for her pugnacious attitude in advancing liberal causes. Several high-profile freshmen Democrats - Reps. -elect Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachussets - have not taken a public position. Steny Hoyer, D-Md.; Gerry Connolly, D-Va.; Don Beyer, D-Va.; Jamie Raskin, D-Md.; and Eleanor Holmes-Norton, D-D.C.; as well as Reps. -elect Jennifer Wexton, D-Va.; and David Trone, D-Md. - announced January 2 that the first votes of the new Congress would be to remove the rule from use.

"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. But Republicans never included the measure in House rules, and the law has been repeatedly waived over the years - making its practical effect questionable.

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United Kingdom trade minister says '50-50' chance Brexit may be stopped
Theresa May has appealed to MPs to help Britain "turn a corner" by backing her Brexit blueprint in an historic vote this month. She said: "Let us not break faith with the British people by trying to stage another referendum".

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Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, defended the Democrats' paygo rule Wednesday as a way of heading off the across-the-board cuts.

"Tomorrow I will also vote No on the rules package, which is trying to slip in #PAYGO".

Al Jazeera's Rosalind Jordan reports from Washington, DC.

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