The House Committee on the Rules today will consider rules for debate on H.R. 8, the Jobs Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012. The Act extends the deadline for the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts implemented during the Bush Administration. They are scheduled for expiration in December 2012, but the bill provides for an extension of the deadlines to December 31, 2013.
Last week the Senate passed S.3412, the Middle Class Tax Cut Act. That bill also extends the Bush tax cuts, but only for households with incomes less than $250,000 a year. Republicans in the House favor extending for the cuts for those households making over $250,000 as well. Republicans have been consistent in their narrative that a failure to extend tax cuts to high income earners would have a negative impact on job creation. Democrats have been equally adamant in their narrative, arguing that the wealthy should pay their fair share in taxes and not extending the tax cuts to the wealthy is one way of doing so.
Today’s hearing should set the stage on which the bill will be debated. As one of the oldest standing committees in the House, the Rules Committee is used by the Speaker of the House to control proceedings on the House floor.
The Rules Committee has two categories of jurisdiction. Under its special rule jurisdiction, the Rules Committee determines the terms and conditions of debate over a certain measure. Under original jurisdiction, the Rules Committee considers measures that typically represent changes to standing rules of the House, or measures that contain special rules.
The category of rules that will be in play is the special rules. There are four types that the Rules Committee can implement.
The Rules Committee can implement an open rule. An open rule permits the offering of any amendment as long as it complies with House rules.
Modified open rules operate very much like open rules. Requirements that amendments be pre-printed or subject to time limits on consideration serve to make these rules more restrictive than open rules.
Structured rules specify that only certain types of amendments may be considered. These rules also specify the time limits on debates.
Finally, closed rules slam the door on amendments. They effectively eliminate the opportunity to offer amendments unless the amendments were reported out with the bill by the committee sending the bill to the floor.
It’s probable that H.R. 8 will be subject to structured rules or closed rules. The GOP-controlled House may want to send a clear message that they are not willing to amend away an extension of tax cuts for the wealthy.