I really despise the Hastert Rule, also known as the “majority of the majority” rule. It’s named after former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert, but Newt Gingrich started it during the 1990s.
The Hastert Rule basically means that unless a majority of the Republican Congressmen favor something, it won’t come up for vote. That prevents bipartisan bills, whereby a group of Congressmen from both parties cobble together a majority of Congressmen to get something passed.
So, let’s say 100% of Democratic Congressmen favor something, and 49% of the Republicans favor it. That means, potentially, that 75% of Congressmen favor the bill. Theoretically, they represent 75% of the American people.
BUT, they need 51% of Republicans for the bill to come to a vote. So, even though Congressmen overwhelmingly favor the bill, John Boehner won’t bring it to a vote. Complicating the situation currently are other dynamics, whereby, within the majority, you seemingly need a majority of the Tea Party Congressmen to pass something. I don’t quite understand why the Tea Party members have so much power.
Nancy Pelosi, the only Democratic Speaker since the 1990s, didn’t follow the Hastert Rule. John Boehner himself has violated it several times. But for the most part, it rules the day. And it helps make government even more dysfunctional. Thank you, Republican Party, for this wonderful contribution to American politics.Leave a comment