Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Smackdown of Absolute GOP Rule in the House

It's beginning to look like the U.S. House of Representatives is back in the business of governing if recent successes are any indication. The despised "Hastert Rule" has been ignored twice of late by Speaker John Boehner and both times good legislation passed (the Sandy funding  bill and the fiscal cliff compromise). The Hastert Rule is unofficial, but has been strictly adhered to by Republicans for a good while. It requires a majority of the majority party's votes before legislation is sent to the full House by the Speaker.

The NYTimes says this morning, "Their relevance is thanks in large part to an unlikely ally: Speaker John A. Boehner. Mr. Boehner has broken with Republican tradition by dispensing with one of the party’s unwritten tenets. It is known as the 'Hastert Rule' for its chief adherent, former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, who declared: 'The job of speaker is not to expedite legislation that runs counter to the wishes of the majority of his majority.'"

That rule put the Democrats in lockdown. They could not even vote on a bill until the majority of Republicans approved it and were left with nothing to do. Now they can keep busy, providing Boehner is serious about Democracy.

One additional, unexpected benefit for those of us from this region: The votes of Morgan Griffith, Bob Goodlatte and Robert Hurt--Republican extremists, all--will count a little less in the future.

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