House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) revealed Friday morning a set of proposed changes to the House rules for the next Congress, which convenes Sunday at noon, including changes that would enshrine gender-inclusive language and cease the use of so-called non-inclusive words in the text of the House rules.
The proposed changes, which will be voted on shortly after the House enters session, would swap out the words father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, husband, and wife for the words parent, child, sibling, parent’s sibling, and spouse in a section of the 48-page House rules.
Furthermore, a reference to “chairman” would be changed to “chair,” two references to “he or she” would be swapped out for “Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner,” and a reference to “seaman” would become “seafarers,” among other language changes.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), reacting to the proposed House rule changes on Twitter, remarked: “This is stupid. Signed, A father, son, and brother.”
This is stupid.
– A father, son, and brother https://t.co/bG9SlRAy6N
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) January 2, 2021
As Fox News notes, the proposed changes don’t “prohibit members from using gender-specific terms when speaking on the House floor or conducting business.” Rather, the changes apply to the text of specific sections referenced in the House rules.
Congressman James McGovern (D-MA), who chairs the Committee on Rules and co-announced the proposed changes with Pelosi on Friday morning, dismissed negative reactions to those rule changes, and suggested they were simply designed to be “succinct” and “accurate.”
“It is ridiculous that in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, this is what some on the extreme right want to fight about,” said McGovern, reports Axios. “[O]nly in Congress would it be a scandal to be succinct. We are being inclusive, efficient and accurate.”
Other parts of the proposal include a change preventing former House members from the floor if they have been convicted of election-related or public service-related crimes, according to Reuters. Such a rule change would affect people like the recently pardoned Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA), who was sentenced to 11 months in prison for using hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign cash on personal expenses.
Under the proposed rule changes, congressional members would also be prohibited from spreading deep-fake style manipulated media, and from disclosing the names of whistleblowers, among many other changes. The rule changes also “strengthen” disclosures filled out by people testifying before committees so as “to provide Members and the public with more information on the witnesses.”
McGovern called the collective proposed rule changes the result of “months of consultation.”
Pelosi, who has drawn no significant challenge for her fourth bid as speaker despite significant election-day losses in the House, said the proposed changes reflect “the views and values of the full range of our historically diverse House Democratic Majority.”
“Democrats have crafted a package of unprecedented, bold reforms, which will make the House more accountable, transparent and effective in our work to meet the needs of the American people,” said Pelosi.
“These future-focused proposals reflect our priorities as a Caucus and as a Country – including crushing the coronavirus, addressing economic disparity, combating the climate crisis, advancing inclusion, and promoting integrity in government,” she added.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated after publication to include a partial quote from Fox News, which states that the new rule doesn’t “prohibit members from using gender-specific terms when speaking on the House floor or conducting business.” Additionally, it was updated to clarify that the proposed changes are to the text of the House rules.