Conservatives want House to codify ‘Hastert Rule’

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Conservative activists are calling for the codification of the “Hastert Rule,” which requires that a majority of the majority in the House of Representatives support legislation before it can be brought to the floor, after Speaker of the House John Boehner indicated that he might be willing to use Democratic votes to get immigration reform passed in the House.

Boehner has broken the Hastert rule, so named for former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, numerous times since the start of this Congress, bringing bills to the floor that do not have a support of a majority of Republicans. Both the bill to avert the fiscal cliff and a bill to provide financial aid to areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy passed with the votes of a majority of Democrats, and a minority of Republicans.

The Conservative Action Project, a group “designed to facilitate conservative leaders working together,” sent a letter Tuesday to Republican members of the House urging that the Hastert rule be officially codified to prevent future votes passing with a minority. The group is chaired by former Attorney General Edward Meese III.

“Recently House Republicans have passed bills that are inconsistent with its mandate from the American people. … The fiscal cliff tax increases, increased pork spending buried into the Hurricane Sandy relief bill, and the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization all passed the House over the opposition of a majority of House Republicans,” the letter reads.

Such votes, the letter says, “empower the liberal minority in the House.”

“[W]e encourage you to formally pass the Hastert rule that requires a ‘majority of the majority’ to pass legislation,” the letter continues. “A growing number of House members support an effort to change Republican Conference rules to codify the Hastert Rule.”

The group argues that doing that would “help to restore and foster unity in the GOP conference” and “restore confidence among Americans.”

A long list of conservatives have signed on to the letter, including Club for Growth president Chris Chocola; Heritage Action CEO Mike Needham; American Conservative Union chairman Al Cardenas; and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins.

Boehner, in an interview that aired Tuesday morning on “Good Morning America,” Business Insider reported, indicated that he might bring immigration reform to the floor even if it did not have a support of a majority of Republicans.

Asked if he would be willing to do so for immigration reform, Boehner said: “I’ve been criticized for it. What I’m committed to is a fair and open process on the floor of the House, so that all members have an opportunity.”

“It’s not about what I want. It’s about what the House wants. And my job is, as speaker, is to ensure that all members on both sides have a fair shot at their ideas,” he said.

In April, Boehner shot back at criticism that he had violated the Hastert rule, saying it was “never a rule to begin with.”

Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller said that, at least for Chocola, signing onto the letter had nothing to do with Boehner’s comments on immigration.

“The fiscal cliff tax increases and non-offset disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy all violated the Hastert Rule. The repeated violation of the Hastert Rule is a longstanding concern for us as it enables Republicans to with Democrats to pass legislation that grows government. We still have no position on immigration,” he told The Daily Caller via email.

“Speaker Boehner’s comments were noteworthy, but as he noted, he has violated the Hastert Rule numerous times,” said Heritage Action communications director Dan Holler told TheDC in an email. “Violating the Hastert Rule is a significant concern for conservatives interested in limiting the size and scope of government. Every Hastert Rule violation has grown government, so it should come as no surprise conservatives are uniformly opposed to such violations.”

Boehner’s office did not respond to request for comment.

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