January 9, 2023 (Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), David Trone (D-MD), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Glenn Ivey (D-MD), and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Members of Congress representing the National Capital Region, issued a stark warning today on the inclusion of the Holman Rule in the House Republican rules package, slated for vote tonight. The Holman Rule is a procedural tactic to allow the reduction or elimination of funding to individual programs already authorized by Congress, or of salaries of individual federal employees or offices, via appropriations riders.

They said:

“During last week’s Speaker vote, the extreme right wing of the incoming House Republican majority showed that they were really in charge. Now this hard right MAGA fringe – which helped Donald Trump try to overturn the 2020 election – hopes to extend the same chaos and nihilism to the rest of the federal government, plotting to defund law enforcement using the Holman Rule to shield Donald Trump from investigation.

“We are all too familiar with House Republican efforts to vilify and punish hardworking federal civil servants for doing their jobs. But while moderates and experienced leaders among their ranks tried to prevent the return of the Holman Rule in 2017, sadly it appears that no one in today’s House Republican conference seems willing to take that stand now. We vigorously oppose these efforts to defund federal police and attack federal employees, and we urge all members of both parties who believe in the rule of law and support good governance to join us.”

The Holman Rule allows the use of specific provisions to reduce or eliminate funding to individual programs already authorized by Congress, or to reduce or eliminate the salaries of individual federal employees or offices within appropriations legislation. This creates a mechanism for legislators to set policy or fire civil servants with must-pass government funding bills. The Holman Rule was removed from the House rules for decades until Republicans revived it in 2017 for the 115th Congress, over the objection of Republican moderates and committee chairs.

The Freedom Caucus included reinstatement of the Holman Rule in a list of demands to Kevin McCarthy for changes to the House rules package last year. Freedom Caucus member Andy Biggs (R-AZ) publicly called for use of the Holman Rule to “start defunding… the FBI, the DOJ.” Others in the Freedom Caucus have echoed Biggs’ call for defunding the FBI and Department of Justice. The Freedom Caucus is led by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), a major figure in the plot to overturn the 2020 election results, whose cell phone was seized by the FBI last year as part of the January 6th investigation.

While any appropriations language passed in the House would require Senate approval and a presidential signature to become law, Freedom Caucus Republicans made it clear that they hope to use showdowns over the debt limit and government funding bills to extract policy concessions using the threat of a government shutdown or catastrophic debt default.