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Pelosi proposes new rules for upcoming Congress

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced proposed rules Friday for the incoming congress. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced proposed rules Friday for the incoming congress. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 2 (UPI) -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proposed new rules for the upcoming Congress, including reforms to the ethics code to protect whistleblowers.

Pelosi joined rules committee Chairman James McGovern, D-Mass., in announcing the proposed rules for the 117th Congress in a statement Friday.

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"Thanks to the leadership of Chairman McGovern and our members, Democrats have crafted a package of unprecedented, bold reforms, which will make the House more accountable, transparent and effective in our work to meet the needs of the American people," Pelosi said in the statement.

Among the changes, the new rules would revoke floor privileges from former House representatives "convicted of crimes related to their House service or election," and make it a violation of the ethics code to disclose a whistleblower's identity.

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The proposed whistleblower protections follow impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump last year in which both Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.," disclosed the name of the man they believed to be a whistleblower. Though whistleblower laws are supposed to provide protection, Republicans found a loophole by citing media reports about the person's identity.

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The new rule would close that loophole, but would still provide an exemption for lawmakers to name whistleblowers if the individual provides written consent or has already voluntarily and publicly disclosed their identity, or if two-thirds of a committee votes that it is in the public's interest.

Another rule would prohibit House employees from distributing manipulated images on social media from their official accounts, known as "deepfakes."

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"This proposal doesn't tinker around the edges of ethics reform," McGovern said in the statement. "It contains historic ideas to protect whistleblowers and prevent everything from the undue influence of lawbreakers on the House Floor to the dissemination of deepfakes on government accounts."

The rule changes also make permanent the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to facilitate a diverse workforce reflective of the district's population. They would also establish a Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth. This will also include standing committees in oversight plans to address ongoing inequities bases on race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, age or national origin. It also includes recognizing all gender identities by changing pronouns and familial relationships in the House rules to be gender neutral.

"This proposal shines a light on those struggling to get ahead in America today and ensures we remain focused on the most pressing issues facing our nation," McGovern added. "I want to thank my colleagues, outside stakeholders, and all those who helped us develop these transformative ideas."

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House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., tweeted about the gender identity rules -- "this is stupid."

The rules package also includes procedural changes, including preventing the Motion to Recommit, which is used by the minority party to obtain a vote on an alternative proposal, from being used to alter bills on the floor. Instead, the minority party would have to send the bill back to committee.

"The Democrats just destroyed over 100 years of representation in Congress," McCarthy tweeted, regarding the change in the Motion to Recommit rule. "Nancy Pelosi wants to silence your voice and consolidate what little power she has left."

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