House Republicans Are Looking to Cut Agencies or Specific Feds' Pay by Reviving the 'Holman Rule'

Members of the 118th Congress stand for the Pledge of Allegiance on the first day of the 118th Congress in the House on Jan. 3, 2023.

Members of the 118th Congress stand for the Pledge of Allegiance on the first day of the 118th Congress in the House on Jan. 3, 2023. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The new Congress already has its eyes set on slashing funding at some agencies, and eliminating others altogether.

The House is set to approve a measure that will make it easier for lawmakers to eliminate federal agencies or slash the pay of individual employees. 

As part of a rules package governing the 118th Congress, House Republicans will allow individual lawmakers to reduce the number of federal workers at specific agencies or cut their compensation as a provision of or an amendment to an appropriations bill. The legislative policy, known as “the Holman Rule,” dates back to the late 19th century and was last revived in 2017. Democrats eliminated the provision when they took control of the House in 2019. 

The rule also allows lawmakers to target specific federal programs or offices. Conservative House lawmakers have suggested they will use the authority to go after agencies like the FBI or to zero-out funding for specific federal investigations. Specific personnel who have drawn the ire of the Republican caucus, such as Homeland Security Department Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, could also face the Holman Rule’s weaponization. 

Prior to 2017, the rule had not been in place since 1983. Republicans during the Trump administration sought to use the provision to target employees at the Congressional Budget Office, State Department and Defense Department, but none of those amendments were adopted. 

The rule does not allow for broad-ranging firing authorities; cuts must be aimed at specific entities and cannot be contingent on future events. The rule will allow lawmakers to slash the workforce or compensation for employees only at the agencies covered by the specific spending bill in which the provision or amendment is included.

Application of the Holman Rule could prove difficult, with Democrats retaining control of the Senate. If the House were able to adopt any amendments using the provision, however, it could complicate passage of the appropriations bills necessary to keep agencies open. 

Democrats were quick to criticize the initiative, calling it archaic and a reversion to the Trump administration’s “war on the federal workforce.” 

The rule is “nothing more than a backdoor way for MAGA Republicans to dismantle the federal workforce and carry out political vendettas at the expense of career civil servants,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va. “House Democrats will stand up for our brave, professional and experienced federal employees and oppose GOP efforts to throw us back into a patronage system.”

Republicans have already made clear which agency they will target first, though they will—at least initially—do so through an independent bill and not the Holman Rule. After the House approves the rules package, it is slated to vote on a measure revoking $80 billion in funding for the Internal Revenue Service. The Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act would rescind the 10-year cash infusion Democrats provided last year to IRS as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. The funding is set to boost enforcement and customer service efforts after massive hiring surges at the agency. The law restricts enforcement efforts to high earners and corporations, though Republicans have insisted it will lead to the agency harassing low and middle-income Americans. The measure will likely be dead on arrival in the Senate. 

House Republicans will also make clear their intention to target federal offices through another part of their rules package, which suggests agencies set oversight plans that “may make recommendations to consolidate or terminate duplicative or unnecessary programs and agencies.” Republicans most recently demonstrated their desire to slash certain federal entities when the Trump administration proposed eliminating 19 agencies, but none of those efforts were successful. 

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.