House adopts new rules

Jan. 5, 2011 at 6:00 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Lively, partisan debate Wednesday gave way to a vote along party lines, 240-191, to accept new rules for the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives.

The new rules either make the legislative process more transparent or obfuscate it, depending on the party speaking in the well. The new rules "establish a Constitution-focused House of Representatives," said Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and send "a credible signal to families, businesses and financial markets that we are dead serious about getting our spending under control."

Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., the ranking Democrat on the House Rules Committee, said Republicans' concerns about deficit reduction were "thrown out the window" by the proposed rules.

Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., Rules Committee chairman, said the rules package brings transparency and accountability both in the committee process and on the floor.

Voters charged the representatives to "fulfill our constitutional duties in an open and transparent way. This rules package we have before us provides us the tools to do what the America people ask," Drier said.

"Because our highest priorities are job creation and economic growth, we must rein in government spending," he said.

Drier and other Republicans said the rule changes would replace the pay-as-you-go plan known as PAYGO with what Cantor called "cut-go," which would offset budgetary increases by spending cuts, not tax increases.

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said he opposed the rules package because it "authorizes trillions of dollars of new debt without paying for it."

If both sides were honest, he said, they would recognize that a combination of spending cuts and revenue enhancements isn't considered, "then you inevitably create new debt."

The rules also would require bills be available for 72 hours before being voted on, require specific pre- and post-committee actions and require constitutional authority for any legislation introduced.

Another provision Democrats jumped on was one they say would exempt tax breaks for special interests and the wealthy from the so-called "cut-go" scrutiny and wouldn't be considered as part of the deficit.

"Deficit reduction requires tough choices -- you have to pay for it," Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., said.

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