John Boehner Must Stop Using Imaginary Rule to Silence House Democrats

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It’s time for Speaker Boehner to stop taking refuge in an imaginary, unwritten rule.

Speaker Boehner keeps the Democratic minority marginalized and usurps the democratic process by pretending that there’s a thing called a Hastert Rule. The Hastert Rule is the belief that no legislation should be allowed to come up for a vote without the support of a majority of the House Republican caucus.

Republicans have expressed complete outrage at the idea that Democrats might be allowed to bring a bill up for a vote. A VOTE. That is all. This from the same party crying that Harry Reid is a dictator for not letting them filibuster anything other than legislation and Supreme Court nominees. In case this isn’t clear, Republicans in the Senate still get to filibuster legislation but in the House, the minority party is not even allowed to bring something up for a vote.

David Axelrod, former Obama senior adviser and analyst for NBC News, pointed out that the Hastert Rule is the same abuse but in reverse. Calling the Hastert Rule the “de facto ‘filibuster’ in House”, he tweeted:

Now that Sen filibuster has been curbed, problem is de facto “filibuster” in House–the Hastert rule, by which Tea Party Rs block votes.1/2
Without unwritten Hastert rule, bipart coalition in House could pass immigration reform, budget compromises. Progress would come. 2/3
Sadly, only GOP House leadership can waive Hastert, & internal caucus politics makes that highly unlikely. So maj rule often thwarted. 3/3

Speaker Boehner didn’t even bother to announce a rule change or change the rules formally as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did. He just started excusing his failure to bring anything up for a vote that wasn’t supported by the majority by taking refuge in the Hastert Rule. Magically invoked rule that allows Republicans to usurp democracy? CHECK.

It’s time for Speaker Boehner to stop taking refuge in a non-existent rule. Even Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) knows there is no such thing as the Hastert Rule — “The Hastert Rule never really existed. It’s a non-entity as far as I’m concerned.”

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