House Republicans renew Holman Rule

The House backed a provision to allow lawmakers to offer amendments that cut spending on specific programs, offices or federal employees.

US Congress House side Shutterstock photo ID: 156615524 By mdgn editorial use only
 

The House of Representatives agreed to bring back the arcane provision that would allow lawmakers to reduce federal spending for federal programs, offices or even individual employees.

The Holman Rule, named after a 19th century Indiana congressman, gives House members the ability to introduce amendments to spending bills, as long as they reduce spending.

It originated as a way for Democrats to defund federal Reconstruction efforts after the Civil War, and has the potential present-day uses of zeroing out programs, cutting the workforce or even eliminating individual positions or reducing individual salaries.

The Holman rule was approved in January 2017 for one year. On March 20, Congress voted 225 to 183 to extend the Holman rule through the remainder of the 115th Congress as part of a rules package governing the debate of two upcoming bills.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who represents a fed-heavy district, called the renewal a “cynical and dangerous attack on federal workers.” Connolly said the rule is “nothing more than a backdoor way for Republicans to dismantle the federal workforce and carry out political vendettas at the expense of career civil servants.”

The rule was invoked by Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) in July to introduce an amendment to abolish the Budget Analysis Division of the Congressional Budget Office, but the House rejected the amendment by a 116 to 309 vote.

Because the rule is part of the House debate rules package, any Holman-related amendment would have to not only pass the House, but also the Senate, where cloture on spending bills requires 60 votes.

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