Last week, House Republicans revitalized an archaic rule, known as the Holman Rule, approving its reinstatement into the 115th Congress’s new rules package. The Holman Rule, established in the year 1876, empowers individual lawmakers with the authority to request amendments to appropriations bills, cut federal employees’ salaries down to $1 and eliminate governmental positions or programs of which they disapprove.
Responsible for recovering the Holman Rule is Representative Morgan Griffith, a member of the right wing, conservative congressional caucus, the House Freedom Caucus. His initiative is being seen as a reflection of the larger actions conducted by the incoming administration, which has sought the freezing of federal hiring and has been surveying the names of the Energy Department team involved in climate change reduction efforts.
The GOP’s move to approve the Holman Rule has created widespread concern among lawmakers, federal employees, union workers and American citizens as a whole. This advance is seen as a direct push to silence employees and programs who speak out on climate change, civil rights, gender equality and other social justice issues.
Many Representatives from Virginia and Maryland articulated concerns regarding the impact the Holman Rule and the larger agenda of the Republican House, due to the fact that their districts are home to thousands of federal employees whose jobs would be at risk if this rule were to pass.
Congressman of Virginia’s 11th District Gerry Connolly expressed that reinstating this rule is a means of carrying out political ideology rather than advancing democracy, stating, “This rules package provides [the Congressional Majority] with the surgical tools necessary to reach into the inner workings of the federal government and cut away each part and employee that runs afoul of their ideological agenda.”
The new rules package also opens the door to abolishing the 2.1 percent federal wage increase implemented by the Obama administration for 2017.
In order for the Holman Rule to succeed as a reinstated amendment, there must be majority approval from both the House and the Senate. Regardless of whether or not it is passed, the message has been sent that federal employees’ salaries and livelihoods are at risk.
Media Resources: The Washington Post 1/5/17, The Huffington Post 1/6/17, The Washington Post 12/9/16, ThinkProgress 1/6/17, The Washington Post 12/9/16