Some progressive Democrats announce opposition to new House rules

Grant Boone
January 3, 2019

Democrats late last week announced they were changing a bunch of rules for this newly elected House of Representatives.

Republicans have long argued that many budget scorekeepers underestimate the additional revenue conservatives say tax cuts generate in the long run because the analyses don't factor in the broader economic effects of the cuts.

That would take away power from ideological firebrands, but this week, caucus liberals such as Khanna and Ocasio-Cortez - and activists on the political left - focused their ire on the PAYGO proposal.

Democrats have criticized the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package the GOP passed in December 2017 for increasing federal deficits, though both parties also came together past year to boost federal spending caps by about $300 billion in 2018 and 2019.

One of the five key ways the new rules will "modernize Congress", according to Democrats, is the restoration of budgetary rules that are unpopular with some progressive Democrats.

"I will be voting NO on the Rules package with #PayGo". More importantly, for the short term, the House can not proceed with legislative business at the start of each new Congress until the rules are settled. The deficit jumped by 17 percent in 2018, after the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul passed in 2017.

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"We shouldn't hinder ourselves from the start", Ocasio-Cortez concluded.

The new rules package that the incoming House Democratic majority is set to pass includes a measure that makes it easier for Congress to hike taxes, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) noted.

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.

Beyond Khanna and Ocasio-Cortez, however, opposition to the proposal appeared muted Wednesday.

Although Pelosi said in a statement afterward that "we welcome the presence of these activists", the episode highlighted a growing rift between establishment Democrats and up-and-coming politicians such as Ocasio-Cortez and Khanna, who each unseated longtime party incumbents.

"We need to tell her that we've got her back in showing and pursuing the most progressive energy agenda that this country has ever seen", Ocasio-Cortez said while standing in the middle of a group of around 200 protestors holding signs reading "Green Jobs For All".

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