House passes rules package that allows religious headgear, creates climate change panel

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The House adopted a rules package Thursday night proposed by Democrats that shapes the way it will conduct business over the next two years.

It passed 234-197.

Three Democrats voted against the measure — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ro Khanna of California and Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. (Ocasio-Cortez and Khanna had said Wednesday that they opposed the legislation because of the PAYGO provision.)

Three Republicans voted for it — Reps. Tom Reed of New York, John Katko of New York and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania. All three are members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, which worked to get some of the changes listed below included (Reed is the co-chair of the caucus, along with Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey).

The House will have two more votes Thursday night, both aimed at reopening shuttered parts of the government.

Among the provisions in the rules package, it:

  • Authorizes the House general counsel to intervene in the lawsuit threatening to take down the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
  • Allows Congress to suspend the debt limit by passing a budget — also known as the Gephardt Rule.
  • Creates a select committee on climate change.
  • Bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Allows people to wear religious headgear in the House chamber.
  • Requires a pay-as-you-go provision, designed to make it harder for legislation to pass if it raises the budget deficit or reduces the surplus (the rule can be waived).
  • Requires the text of a bill to be public for 72 hours before the House votes on it.
  • Makes slight changes to the names of the Oversight and Education committees.
  • Bans members of Congress and employees from sitting on corporate boards.
  • Requires support from a majority of Democrats for a motion to vacate the speaker, rather than just one lawmaker.
  • Expedites consideration of measures with broad bipartisan support.
  • Creates a bipartisan select committee to “modernize and improve Congress.”
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