It’s Time to Codify the Hastert Rule

Over the past few months, we have witnessed a dynamic in Washington in which House leadership is passing liberal legislation with support from the Democrat caucus.  Instead of using their unfettered control over the House to advance conservative legislation and jam the Senate with popular bills, they are playing defense on Senate-passed legislation.  On other occasions, they have wasted valuable legislative days on suspension bills that grow government.


Just who controls the House? Democrats?

Well, that is what will happen if we continue to violate the Hastert Rule.  Former House Speaker Denny Hastert employed a simple rule when scheduling legislation for floor consideration.  He would never bring any legislation to the floor that did not enjoy the support of the majority of Republicans.  So far this year, House leadership has violated that rule 5 times, bringing bills to the floor with minority support from the Republican conference:

  • “Fiscal Cliff” tax hikes and stimulus pork (HR 8 1/1/13)- This was the McConnell-Biden tax hike coupled $230 billion in new stimulus spending, including $40 billion in green energy pork.  It passed with only 85 Republican votes.
  • Sandy Pork Bill (HR 152, 1/15/13) – This bill contained $60 billion in extraneous pork spending, of which the majority would be appropriated long after the recovery from the Hurricane is over.  It passed with just 38 Republican votes.
  • “Violence Against Women Act (S. 47 2/28/13) – This was the Senate version of VAWA that dramatically expanded the unconstitutional program to include a number of social engineering provisions and violations of due process.  It passed with only 87 GOP votes.
  • Battlefield preservation pork (HR 1033 4/9/13) – This was a random Democrat suspension bill to give money to states for the purpose of buying up more land.  It passed with less than half of Republican members.
  • Obamacare pre-existing conditions program (HR 1549 4/25/13) – to pump $4 billion into Obamacare’s federally managed and manipulated high-risk pool for those with pre-existing conditions.  The bill was pulled from the floor at the last minute due to a mass revolt within the conference.

Several weeks ago, when pressed about his violation of the Hastert Rule, Boehner retorted that “it was never a rule to begin with.”  He is correct.  There is no commandant to follow the Hastert Rule, but it is commonsense.  And it is time we codify it.

From my understanding of the conference rules, a group of roughly 25-30 members can force the GOP Conference to vote on a new rule.  They should force a vote to adopt a new rule banning any floor consideration of a bill opposed by the majority of the majority.  With the threat of the Senate passing a massive amnesty/immigration deform bill, a farm bill, student loan increases, a highway bill, and God knows what else, it’s time for conservative House members to begin asserting control over the House before this gets out of hand.

Remember, the Hastert Rule still gives these guys leeway to grow government as long as they have 118 Republicans supporting the idea.  Unfortunately, we don’t have 118 conservatives in Congress at this point.  So if anything is opposed by a majority of Republicans, it’s bad news, and should be scuttled.

Over the next few months, Republicans need to commit to blocking all Senate bills, while going on offense with conservative legislation, such as universal carry, border security and legal immigration reforms, repeal of ethanol and energy mandates and subsidies, Federal Reserve reform, welfare reform – just to name a few.


With a simple majority in the House, we control more of the legislative process in Washington than the Democrats do.  It’s time we start acting like it.  It’s time we codify the Hastert Rule.

Cross-posted from The Madison Project


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