One of the great failures of the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) is their insistence on austerity politics.
Nothing exemplifies this more, and hamstrings the progressives in the Congress more, than the PAYGO rules, which the Democrats have assiduously followed over the past 3 decades, even while Republicans ignore it.
Basically, it says that any legislation has to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and if it costs money, then there have to be offsetting spending cuts or tax hikes in that bill.
It means that unelected staff in the CBO can hold up a bill, and kill it with the numbers that they generate.
It also means that conservative Democrats, Nancy Pelosi (Seriously, look at her record, and who she gives committee chairmanships to) who are more interested in careerism and getting large campaign checks in, have an excuse not to do anything to help the average American.
It suits them just fine, but it also gave us Donald John Trump.
Well now, clearly as a result of pressure from the progressive wing of the Democratic Caucus, I honestly think that this was a price of their vote for Pelosi as speaker earlier today, House rules have been change to both soften Pay Go and the motion to recommit. (The motion to recommit was frequently used by Republicans, and almost never by Democrats, to force meaningless votes that could be used as election fodder)
The House rules package for the 117th Congress, released Friday, would weaken a procedural tool of the minority, provide key exemptions to a budget rule requiring the cost of legislation to be offset and strengthen congressional oversight provisions.
The rules package is expected to get a vote on Monday, the second day of the new Congress.
One of the main requests from Democrats across the caucus was that leadership either eliminate or defang the motion to recommit, or MTR, which is a vote afforded to the minority on most bills.
The MTR has been used in the past as a procedural vote to kill legislation by sending it back to committee, but in recent years it has become a substantive vote that would actually amend the bill if adopted. In either scenario, it is mostly used as a political messaging vote in which the minority tries to trap the majority into going on the record on controversial policies.
The new rules would prevent MTRs from being used to alter bills on the floor. Instead, the minority would only be able to use the motion to send a bill back to committee.
The change makes it easier for Democrats — concerned about opposing whatever policy Republicans use the MTR to highlight — to vote against the motion as purely a procedural maneuver.
Progressives were also pushing for the rules package to eliminate a longstanding pay-as-you-go, or PAYGO, provision that requires legislation that would increase the deficit to be offset.
While the rules package does not get rid of PAYGO, it would provide the Budget Committee chairperson the authority to declare legislation providing economic and heath responses to the pandemic, as well as measures designed to combat climate change, as having no cost — effectively a PAYGO exemption.
One of the main reasons progressives wanted to repeal PAYGO was to make it easier to pass measures to respond to the climate crisis, so the rule change may be enough to satisfy them.
Basically, if you can credibly argue that a bill pertains to the pandemic, or climate change, it can proceed without all the rigamarole that has been required up to now.
It’s a good start, and I would note that the only reason the Pelosi is still speaker is because she has meticulously prevented any alternatives to her rule to come forward.
This should be the next item on the Progressive Caucus, because even if the Democrats to not retain control of the house in 2022, pretty likely giving the Joe “Nothing will Fundamentally Change” Biden will be in the White House, Pelosi is an impediment to the success of the Democratic Party and the well-being of the nation.