Jan 01, 2021
Progressives on Saturday applauded House Democrats for including in the chamber's rules package for the incoming Congress two key exemptions from the "pay as you go" rule, also known as Paygo, which could cut down on roadblocks keeping lawmakers from passing far-reaching healthcare and climate action legislation.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) unveiled an updated rules package which would exempt legislation "to prevent, prepare for, or respond to economic or public health consequences" of the Covid-19 pandemic or of the climate crisis, from being subjected to Paygo.
Paygo requires that any increase in spending by the federal government be matched by offsetting tax increases or budget cuts, and progressives including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) have called for the rule to be revoked in recent years while Pelosi and other Democrats have defended it.
Ocasio-Cortez and her legislative goals were derided by critics after taking office in January 2019, as Pelosi adopted the Paygo rule for the 116th Congress. The New York congresswoman voted against the 2019 rules package.
\u201cOne of the 1st votes I ever cast broke w/ my party over House rules that strangled transformative legislation for working people + climate. It was honestly terrifying.\n\nNow, CPC has pushed these critical rule changes in House negotiations. Grateful for @RepMcGovern\u2019s leadership\ud83d\ude4f\ud83c\udffd\u201d— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) 1609552586
On Saturday, Ocasio-Cortez added the "demotion" of Paygo to the list of achievements by progressives in Congress in recent years.
\u201cA little flashback for ya \u26a1\ufe0f this tweet is from my 1st day in Congress.\n\nWild day 1 expectations aside, let\u2019s update w/ how things panned out:\n\n\u2705 House Climate Select Committee created\n\u2705 Co-chaired Biden Climate Task Force that upgraded \ud83c\udf0e policy\n\u2705 PAYGO is getting demoted\n\n\u263a\ufe0f\u201d— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) 1609556847
\u201cOne of the first deep lessons I learned in the House that process IS policy. If you pass M4A, GND, etc w/ messed up process/rules, then it can be weaponized into austerity leg by rules requiring it to have insane tax hikes or service cuts tied to it that aren\u2019t applied to others\u201d— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) 1609552586
\u201cSo these rule changes are a big deal - & not only on healthcare. They are structural changes in the House that level the playing field for a full SUITE of flagship legislation, locks in that field for the next two years, & establishes precedents for after\n\nThis was not easy\u201d— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) 1609552586
The Intercept journalist Ryan Grim noted that the elimination of Paygo as a consideration for measures involving public health could eventually help Congress to pass Medicare for All as well as other measures to help Americans struggling with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
\u201cProgressives in the House have won a rules change that would allow Medicare for All, a Green New Deal or other big ticket agenda items to be exempted from paygo. This was a necessary step in opening the way for it.\u201d— Ryan Grim (@Ryan Grim) 1609531867
\u201cThe value of changing the rules, even though they don\u2019t yet have the votes for M4A, is that it is easier to defend the rules as they are than fight for changes. \n\nAlso it applies to things this term that can actually pass, like more checks, Medicaid and Medicare expansion etc\u201d— Ryan Grim (@Ryan Grim) 1609531867
Lawmakers "could quite easily cite [the pandemic and the climate crisis] as the need for expanded public healthcare, which is specified in both subsections," Grim tweeted, adding that the rules change "easily covers a very sweeping set of policies."
After decades of powerful House Democrats being "fervently committed" to Paygo, tweeted Claire Sandberg, former national organizing director for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), "it's welcome news that exemptions have now been created for two extremely broad policy areas."
Other progressives praised the proposed rules change, which must still be voted on in the Democrat-controlled House, on social media.
\u201cEnd of Nov, the Progressive Caucus decided on a set of progressive rules reform priorities: Paygo reform and MTR reform ranked high on that list. \n\nSo grateful to Chairman @RepMcGovern for helping us secure these reforms and setting the stage for us to push for bolder agenda.\u201d— Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan Omar) 1609541047
\u201cAdvocating for progressive values in Congress is hard if you can\u2019t get over the procedural hurdles that exist. Passing these reformed rules is step one in our fight for progress. \nI am optimistic about what we can accomplish in the 117th Congress, if we stay focused & strategic.\u201d— Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan Omar) 1609541047
\u201cReforms to the Motion to Recommit & Paygo were the 2 top priorities for @USProgressives in Rules package. These significant changes we negotiated w/House leadership aget rid of procedural obstacles that are used to stop or weaken bold policies from passing. A great start!\u201d— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@Rep. Pramila Jayapal) 1609549890
\u201cAmending paygo opens the door to crucial legislation that meets the scale of our greatest challenges. \n\nThis is a huge victory for @USProgressives \u2014 removing a significant barrier to expanding health care and enacting bold climate policy. Let\u2019s get to work!\u201d— Marie Newman (@Marie Newman) 1609601090
"Amending Paygo opens the door to crucial legislation that meets the scale of our greatest challenges," tweeted Rep.-elect Marie Newman (D-Ill.).
We're optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.
We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter counts.
Your contribution supports this new media model—free, independent, and dedicated to uncovering the truth. Stand with us in the fight for social justice, human rights, and equality. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!
Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.