1. Democrats Assume Control of U.S. House
January 3, 2019 marked the beginning of the 116th Congress. The first order of business was electing Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as Speaker of the House. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will serve as Minority Leader.
NECA’s Look Ahead: On swearing in day, the NECA government affairs team attended numerous events meeting the new and returning members of Congress. NECA’s official Welcome Back letter was distributed to all members of the House and the Senate. NECA looks forward to working with members of the 116th Congress over the next two years.
2. House Passes Updated Rules Package
The new Democratic Majority, led by House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA), voted on an updated Rules package, which will govern the proceeds of the House of Representative for the entire 116th Congress.
NECA’s Look Ahead: The Rules package passed the House, but some progressive members of the Democratic party voted with Republicans against it, saying it was not progressive enough. Three Republicans supported the Rules package, including Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), to support provisions related to modernizing parliamentary procedure.
The package includes some of the following provisions:
Requiring bill text to be available for a full 72 hours before the bill can go the floor.
Ending the “Holman” rule, which allowed members to offer amendments to appropriations bills designed to reduce the scope and size of government.
Eliminating dynamic scoring of bills.
Granting voting rights to delegates of U.S. territories.
Mandating all committees to hold a members-day hearing so that people who do not sit on a particular committee can provide input on its agenda.
Creating an office of Diversity and Inclusion to help offices with hiring qualified candidates from a wide array of backgrounds.
Creating a bipartisan Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress.
Creating a bipartisan Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.
3. Partial Government Shutdown in Full Swing
On December 31, 2018, House Democrats announced their plan to immediately vote on January 3, 2019 on two bills that would address the current partial government shutdown. The first vote would fund all of the unfunded agencies, except for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through the end of fiscal year 2019. The second vote (in the form of a Continuing Resolution) would fund DHS through February 8, 2019 to further stall the fight over the border wall funding and allow for more time to negotiate specifically on border security.
NECA’s Look Ahead: House and Senate leaders held their first meeting with the President in several weeks at the White House on January 2, 2019 to discuss border security. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has made it clear that he will not bring any budget bill to a vote in the Senate unless it is something that the President will sign. While the President has refused to support any bill that did not include his $5 billion for a wall, there has been some indication that he may be looking to negotiate on that position.