Jeffries defends gender-neutral language in House rules, says it reflects 'gorgeous mosaic' of America

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House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., defended his party’s proposed new House rules for the 117th Congress, specifically addressing new language that would replace gendered terms with more general ones.

For example, if passed the rules would replace terms such as "mother," "father," "daughter," "son," "sister" and "brother" with "parent," "child" and "sibling," respectively. Examples of other terms include the replacement of "chairman" with "chair" and "seaman" with "seafarer."

"From my standpoint, the gender-neutral language is just consistent with an effort for the House, in the best tradition of the House, to reflect the gorgeous mosaic of the American people in the most sensitive fashion possible," Jeffries told reporters when asked about the language. "And the House, of course, is designed to be the institution closest to the American people to reflect the hopes, the dreams, the aspirations, the fears, concerns, anxieties, in the words of the framers the passions of the American people."

The congressman went on to note that the closeness to the people is why members of the House serve two-year terms instead of four years like presidents, six years like senators or lifetimes like Supreme Court justices.

House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., had a blunt reaction to the genderless terminology.

"This is stupid," McCarthy tweeted Friday adding, "Signed – A father, son, and brother."

Members of Congress on Monday debated the new rules on the House floor.


In addition to the new language, the proposed rules would also continue proxy voting during the coronavirus pandemic, ban lawmakers convicted of certain crimes from visiting the House floor again, and change payment rules on legislation related to the virus and climate change that previously required lawmakers to identify new revenue sources or spending cuts to fund their priorities. 

The proposal would also authorize funding for the House Administration Committee to investigate election disputes underway in Iowa's 2nd District, where Democrat Rita Hart is contesting a six-vote win by Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks. It would not include a proposal that had been suggested by Democrats to ban lawmakers from carrying guns at the Capitol they way visitors are prohibited from bringing in firearms.

Fox News' Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.

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