When the House returns on January 5, the new Republican leadership is expected to pass a new set of operating rules. Among the changes are provisions to make it easier to reduce federal spending, a top priority for the Republican leadership:
- Empowering the House Budget Committee Chair (expected to be Paul Ryan (R-WI)) to develop spending levels for FY 2011-2015 without debate or a vote in committee or on the floor.
- Replacing the “pay as you go” rules which requires offsets for new entitlement spending (such as Social Security and Medicaid) or tax cuts with a “cut as you go” rule requiring offsets for new spending only (which means that tax cuts would not need to be paid for).
- Changing budget reconciliation rules to allow consideration of tax cut legislation that increases the deficit.
- Requiring a direct vote to raise the debt ceiling.
- Creating deficit-reduction “lockbox” procedure that requires reductions in spending to go to a “spending reduction account” instead of being used to fund other programs.
These are among the changes that will affect how the House of Representatives sets its spending levels. They also will make it easier for the House to vote to cut spending for education, employment, housing, transportation and many other discretionary spending programs that people with disabilities depend on. The Republican Conference is expected to discuss and finalize the proposals before the House votes on January 5th. The Senate is not considering implementing these changes, which will help set the stage for numerous confrontations between the House and Senate over fiscal policy.