The New Congress Gets to Work

By at 7 January, 2019, 8:14 pm

Small Business Insider

By Karen Kerrigan-

The 116th Congress was sworn in on January 3. The partial government shutdown is getting most of the attention, but the legislative wheels are in full motion.

New Democrat Majority in the U.S. House Takes Action

House Democrats passed a Rules package, which made several changes reflecting the priorities of the new majority.  Highlights of these changes include:

● Automatic Suspension of the Debt Limit: Revives the repealed “Gephardt Rule” which automatically raises the federal debt ceiling rather than requiring a separate vote.

● Reinstatement of the Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) Rule, and Repeal of the GOP’s Use of Dynamic Scoring

● Removes a requirement that a three-fifths majority is needed to increase federal income taxes. (Now, it will be a simple majority.)

● Repeals Term Limits of Committee Chairmanships (a GOP rule)

● Provides the Text of Legislative Language 72 Hours Prior to a Vote

● Ethics Reforms: No non-disclosure agreements restricting staff from communicating with Ethics Committee personnel, new restrictions for indicted Members of Congress, no sexual relations between committee staff and Members, and bars Members and staff from sitting on corporate public boards.

● Establishes a Select Committee on Climate Crisis, which lacks the powers and authority called for by “New Green Deal” Democrats.

● Amends the Discharge Petition Process (More Flexibility)

● Establishes Offices of Diversity and Inclusion, and Whistleblower Protection

● Establishes a Committee to “Modernize Congress”

● Authorizes the General Counsel on Behalf of the House Speaker to Intervene in the Texas vs. U.S. Lawsuit on Obamacare that was Recently Ruled Unconstitutional

To read the House Democrat’s report “Restoring Congress for the People,” which provides the rationale for these rule changes click here

On January 3, the House advanced a package to reopen government (without “wall” funding). They also unveiled H.R. 1, a big legislative package that includes voting, campaign finance and ethics overhauls.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the House funding package was a “non-starter” in the Senate.  Some Democrats on the Senate side are trying to build support for “jamming up” the work on that side of the Capitol until they are allowed to vote on the House bill to open the government. Now that is real gridlock.

The 116th Congress has new and old “power players.” Here are a few useful links to the Republican and Democrat leadership for the new Congress, Committee Chairs and Ranking members:

U.S. Senate Leadership for Republicans and Democrats – click here.

U.S. House Leadership for the Democrats and Republicans – click here.

U.S. Senate Republican Committee Assignments and Chairs (to be ratified this week.) See the list courtesy of Majority Leader McConnell here.

U.S. Senate and House Democrat Committee Chairs courtesy of Roll Call.

U.S. House Republican Committee Ranking Committee Members – click here.

We are just getting started, and yes it is going to be one wild year on Capitol Hill.

Karen Kerrigan is president & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

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