Comstock fights off criticism for Holman Rule vote
The Holman rule, named after Indiana Congressman William Steele Holman, was created in 1876 and allows any member of Congress, including back-benchers, to propose an amendment that would cut a specific federal program or slash the salaries of individual federal employees. Jobs could also be eliminated altogether. Any such amendment to an appropriations bill would have to be approved by a majority of the House and the Senate.
Prior to the new rules package, agency budgets could be reduced, but specific programs and employees were under civil service protections and could not be targeted.
Historically the Holman rule was designed to eliminate patronage jobs, but it was dropped in 1983 after Speaker Tip O’Neill objected to it being used to make spending cuts.
It was revived this go-round by U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.). Reacting to the passing of the rule in his online column, Griffith said, “The Holman Rule is a scalpel, not an axe and it will be used to promote efficiency in government.”
Republican leaders say the rule increases accountability in government. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said it allows Congress to get at places they previously couldn’t before. As a concession to Republicans who opposed to the rule, it will expire in one year unless lawmakers vote otherwise.
Before the package came to the floor, Rep. Comstock tried unsuccessfully to block it. She voted for an amendment sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) to remove it.
After that amendment failed, Comstock, who represents Loudoun and other parts of Northern Virginia, ended up voting Jan. 3 for the overall package, which included the Holman rule.
Local Democrats have knocked Comstock’s vote, accusing her of breaking promises to protect federal workers. Anthony Fasolo, in a Times-Mirror letter to the editor, criticized her for voting for a rule.
“I guess Mrs Comstock is only caught up in the new way politicians do things today; say anything to get elected but then vote the way your party wants you to vote,” Fasolo noted.
Comstock responded by highlighting her efforts to strip the Holman rule from the rules package.
“There was no individual vote on this temporary rule on the House floor. The rule is only in effect for one year on a trial basis,” she said.
Comstock, who represents thousands of federal workers and contractors, defended her record supporting federal employees. A spokesman said she is prepared to take appropriate and aggressive action if the “misguided and ill-informed” rule is used to harm workers.
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