The 115th Congress has begun! In this episode, we take a quick look at that government funding law that sets up an April funding crisis for this new Congress and we take a closer look at the shady new rules governing the 115th House of Representatives.
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Bills/Laws Discussed in this Episode
HR 2028 “Further Continuing and Security Assistance Appropriations Act” (Continuing Resolution)
- Allows the Department of State to hire contractors until September 30, 2018
- Expedites the process for passing a bill that allows General James Mattis to be nominated as Defense Secretary by granting an exemption to the National Security Act of 1947 that prohibits the nomination of someone who has retired from the military within the previous seven years.
115th House Rules
- Text of the Rules for the 115th Congress, Congressional Record, January 3, 2016.
- Highlighted in the 113th Congress in CD038: Wasting July
- Forces Federal agencies to get Congressional approval before enacting major rules
Sound Clip Sources
- Congressional Record (full transcript)
- 3:30pm EST – Rep. Steny Hoyer: Mr. Speaker, as the gentleman knows, there is a provision in the rules that are proposed which are not in the rules of the last Congress, which give us great pause because we think it tends to put Members in a difficult place from a constitutional perspective and from a freedom-of-speech perspective. The rule, of course, of which I speak is the rule that relates to empowering the Sergeant at Arms to levy fines.
May I ask the gentleman first: Did the Rules Committee find that there was any precedent for such a provision in rules historically? Rep. Pete Sessions: Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman very much. I would like to refer to something which I believe has been made available, and, if not, I would be very pleased to do it. The House has delegated fining authority, section 1103 of the Manual, where the House incorporates, by reference, title I of the Ethics in Government Act. Under this section, if a financial disclosure is filed late, the filer is subject to a $200 filing fee. It is a fine by another name that is administered by the House Ethics Committee. So what I am suggesting to you is we have seen where there has been the backup of rules that have been backed up by the levying of a fine, and I believe that is what the gentleman is seeking.
- 3:22pm EST– Rep. Steny Hoyer: If I may conclude, as the gentleman knows, and I won’t say thousands, but hundreds of pictures were taken just an hour ago on this floor—hundreds. We were in session, not in recess. *Rep. Pete Sessions: If I could address that, and I want to do this very gingerly because I do not want to start a battle here. The gentleman and I both know what caused this action was a deep, deep feeling that many Members on your side had about a particular issue. It resulted in what could be seen as—and I saw it as—a protest. Look, we are used to that in this body, people being upset. We are not used to people violating the rule, and it already was a rule that you cannot use, for recording purposes, those devices. We did not make this up. That was already a rule. So it became an advent of a protest.
- 3:23pm EST– Rep. Steny Hoyer: Very frankly, I think the gentleman is correct; it was a pro- test which gave rise to this rule which I think is ill-advised, but I understand the difference. The protest was because—and as Rules chairman, the gentleman probably knows this better than anybody else—we asked for an amendment that we thought 85 to 90 percent of the American people were for. We didn’t get transparency, we didn’t get openness, and we did not get an opportunity to express our views. That is why we are so concerned because we think, frankly, this is analogous to a gag rule: to shut us down, to shut us out, and to shut us up.
Democrats Stage a Sit-In by Trevor Noah on The Daily Show, June 23, 2016.
- Trevor Noah explains the Democrat’s House floor protest
Middle East Security Challenges hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (aired on C-SPAN), April 22, 2016.
- General James Mattis on the biggest threats to the United States (Iran)
Global Challenges and US National Security Strategy, Senate Committee on Armed Services, January 27, 2015
- House Republicans revive obscure rule that allows them to slash the pay of individual federal workers to $1 by Jenna Portnoy and Lisa Rein, Washington Post, January 5, 2017.
- House votes to condemn U.N. security council resolution on Israeli settlements by Karoun Demirjian, Washington Post, January 5, 2017.
- In Republicans’ Ethics Office Gambit, a Spectacle of Tweets and Retreats by Carl Hulse, New York Times, January 4, 2017.
- House GOP rules change will make it easier to sell off federal land by Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post, January 3, 2017.
- U.S. declines to veto U.N. Security Council resolution for Israel to stop Jewish settlement activity by Carol Morello and Ruth Eglash, Washington Post, December 23, 2016.
- A Historic Numbers of Electors Defected and Most Were Supposed to Vote for Clinton by Kiersten Schmidt and Wilson Andrews, New York Times, December 19, 2016.
- Trump’s Defense Pick Challenges Rules Regarding Civilian Control of the Military by Brian Naylor, NPR, December 2, 2016.
- Sergeants at Arms, United States House of Representatives History, Art, & Archives.
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