Update: Jan. 3, 7:20 p.m.
The House voted to pass a rules package Thursday evening that removes the Holman Rule, which allowed Congress to cut individual and program pay at federal agencies.
A House of Representatives rule that gives Congress the authority to cut the pay of an individual federal employee or eliminate entire agency programs will be removed under a proposed rules package for the 116th Congress.
The Holman Rule, first established in 1876 and reintroduced in the 115th Congress, enables lawmakers to cut individual salaries, programs or agency office sizes in appropriations language.
The rule was never successfully used during the two years it was recently in effect, but lawmakers have tried to cut the salary of the Western Area Power Administrator and to remove the Congressional Budget Office’s budget analysis division by invoking the rule.
The House’s National Capital Region Delegation — made up of Reps. Steny Hoyer, D-Md.; Gerry Connolly, D-Va.; Don Beyer, D-Va.; Jamie Raskin, D-Md.; and Eleanor Holmes-Norton, D-D.C.; as well as Reps.-elect Jennifer Wexton, D-Va.; and David Trone, D-Md. — announced Jan. 2 that the first votes of the new Congress would be to remove the rule from use.
“With our first votes, House Democrats — led by members from the National Capital Region — will demonstrate our commitment to restoring support for the federal workforce in Congress. By eliminating the Holman Rule from the House Rules package for the 116th Congress, Democrats will end an underhanded GOP tactic to sneak attacks on federal employees into must-pass bills,” the delegation said in a news release.
“As we remove the Holman Rule, we are also seeking solutions to end Trump’s government shutdown and his 2019 pay freeze for the civil service. Federal employees work in every Congressional district to provide vital services that help keep our nation healthy, safe, and strong, and their ill treatment at the hands of the Trump administration and Republican leaders is one of the most disgraceful elements of the past two years. That era is now over, and we will continue to ensure that House Democrats use our majority to fight for feds.”
Champions of the Holman Rule have said it supports Congress’s power of the purse, while opponents say that the rule allows lawmakers to carry out political agendas against individual employees or offices.
The 116th Congress will meet and begin considering legislation Jan. 3.
Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.