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New Congress – What Do You Need to Know Now That It Has Started?

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New Congress – What Do You Need to Know Now That It Has Started?

January 7, 2019

Even amidst the partial federal shutdown, the new Congress is ushering in important developments. Here are key ones ANCOR members need to be aware of:

  • U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been re-elected as Speaker of the House by members of the U.S. House of Representatives, given the results of the 2018 election which gave the Democratic Party the majority of House seats.
  • The change in party control led to changes in the rules governing Congress, including important budgeting provisions that will affect all future legislation. Notably, these changes are:
    • Adopting a “PAY-GO” rule, which state that new bills which affect revenue and/or spending on entitlement programs must be revenue-neutral. While you can find a fuller explanation of PAY-GO here, note that the majority party can shape how PAY-GO is implemented so it might not retain its current form. The shape of PAY-GO in this Congress is currently under discussion and ANCOR will keep members informed of how it will affect negotiations around any future legislation of interest.
    • Reviving the “Gephardt Rule”, which has not been utilized in previous Congresses but in essence automatically increases the debt ceiling limit whenever the U.S. House passes a budget. In addition to reviving the rule, Democrats have voted to alter it so that it is “turbo-charged.” The debt ceiling has often consumed a lot of Congressional bandwidth, often to the detriment of other legislation. The “Gephardt Rule” could avoid this source of major contention and disruption, making it very significant to how this incoming Congress operates.
  • There will be new members of Congress in important committees. This week, the Senate and House will confirm committee arrangements. Any introduced legislation has to be approved by the committee of jurisdiction in both the House and Senate before getting a full floor vote, so it is important for advocates to know who is sitting on various committees. Official lists for Committee arrangements are not available yet, but ANCOR will be sharing them once they are.