(H. Res. 5) Legislation revising the procedural rules of the House of Representatives, including eliminating House floor voting rights for House delegates from the District of Columbia and U.S. territories, and revising budget rules to make it easier for Republican leaders to bring up tax cut bills that increased federal budget deficits – On bringing to a final vote the resolution setting a time limit for debate and prohibiting amendments to the measure.
This was a procedural vote on a resolution revising the procedural rules of the House of Representatives (known as a “rules package”). If passed, this particular procedural motion -- known as the “previous question" -- effectively ends debate and brings the pending legislation to an immediate vote. The Republicans brought up this rules package immediately after regaining control of the House in 2011 (following the 2010 midterm elections).
Republicans made a number of major changes to House rules in this package. First, the measure eliminated voting rights on the House floor for delegates from the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. (Those delegates, however, were still permitted to vote in committees.)
In addition, the measure changed House budget rules to make it easier for the new Republican majority to bring up legislation cutting taxes. Under the budget rules used by the Democratic majority from 2007-2010, any bill increasing federal spending or cutting taxes violated House rules if it increased the budget deficit. Under the new Republican-backed rules package, only spending bills that increased the deficit violated the rules. Thus, a bill that cut taxes and increased the deficit was permissible under the Republicans’ rules package.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) urged support for this rules package: “ By passing this rules package, we will take a significant step in the right direction. It will put us on the road to weaning America off its dependence on debt and government programs as an economic lifeline, and it will help us build a new, more hopeful future rooted in limited government, long-term investment, innovation, and entrepreneurship.”
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) urged opposition to the rules package: “As we stand here today… the concern about deficits has disappeared from everything but the press releases. Under the new majority rules, the other side will essentially gut …the…rules adopted by Democrat majorities in the House and Senate in 2007 under which tax cuts or increases in entitlement spending must be offset by tax increases or entitlement cuts….It was a hallmark of Democrat leadership, and we are proud of it. We adhered to responsible spending levels and affordable tax cuts, and we took sensible steps towards controlling the deficit.”
The House agreed to the previous question motion by a vote of 236-188. All 236 Republicans present voted “yea.” All 188 Democrats present voted “nay.” As a result, the House proceeded to a final vote on legislation revising the procedural rules of the House of Representatives, including eliminating House floor voting rights for House delegates from the District of Columbia and U.S. territories – and revising budget rules to make it easier for Republican leaders to bring up tax cut bills that increased federal budget deficits.