Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The so-called Hastert Rule, the "majority of the majority" to bring a bill to the House floor, is frequently cited by Tea-Publicans. It is an extra-constitutional and undemocratic GOP Caucus rule.
The Hastert Rule empowers a Tea Party minority to engage in a tyranny of the minority. Byron York writes at the Washington Examiner, How 30 House Republicans are forcing the Obamacare fight:
There are 233 Republicans in the House. Insiders estimate that three-quarters of them, or about 175 GOP lawmakers, are willing, and perhaps even eager, to vote for a continuing resolution that funds the government without pressing the Republican goal of defunding or delaying Obamacare.
On the other side, insiders estimate about 30 House Republicans
believe strongly that Obamacare is such a far-reaching and harmful law
that the GOP should do everything it can — everything — to stop it
or slow it down. That includes precipitating a standoff leading to a government shutdown.
"This isn't just another bill," Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., one of
the most vocal of the 30, told me. "This isn't load limits on turnip
trucks that we're talking about. This is … an extremely consequential
bill that will impact every American, and that's why you have such
Another 20 to 30 GOP members sympathize with that position but might
be willing to compromise, except for the fact that they fear a primary
challenge from the Right.
In the continuing resolution fight, it is the 30 most committed
members, along with their 20-30 allies in the next-most-committed group,
who are setting the House Republican agenda. The ones pushing for a
fight over Obamacare, even if it leads to a shutdown, are controlling
what the House does.
Which has led to the question: How can 30 Republicans beat 200 Republicans? How does that work?
There are two answers. One, the Republican majority in the House is
fairly narrow. And two, Democrats have been extraordinarily unified in
opposing GOP proposals.
It takes 217 votes to pass a bill in the House. Republicans can pass
one all by themselves, but only if they keep 217 out of the total 233
GOP lawmakers on board. If more than 16 GOP lawmakers jump ship, Speaker John Boehner won't have enough Republican votes to pass any given bill [because of the Hastert Rule.]
That's where Democratic unity comes in. There are 200 Democrats in
the House. If they unanimously oppose a bill, then Boehner has to keep
almost all of his GOP lawmakers together, or the measure will fail.
The combination of those two factors — a close Republican majority
and united Democratic opposition — gives those 30 Republicans their
power. In a situation where Democrats nearly unanimously oppose a bill,
the 30 can make the difference between success or failure for Boehner.
If they stick together, Boehner can't win.
* * *
It's been a devastatingly effective strategy, and it has helped
create a deep and growing frustration inside the GOP conference. Just
look at what a member of the Republican majority told me after House
Republicans had taken another step toward confrontation. "Analysts say
the Congressional GOP doesn't understand strategy," the Republican said.
"I'm like, 'Congressional GOP' my ass! It's 30 idiots who can't get us
Boehner tries to walk a delicate line within his conference. But the
chances are good that in the end, the majority of Republicans — the
200, or at least 175 — will take control. If Boehner offers them a
"clean" continuing resolution, they will vote for it.
* * *
When the time comes, lots of Democrats will vote for the [CR]
too, which means the final spending measure, when it finally comes, will
likely pass with a big majority.
The TanMan, Weeper of the House John Boehner, is the weakest speaker in modern American history. He fails to exercise the power of his office over committee assignments, congressional office budgets, congressional office assignments, assignment and call of bills, etc. This is a failure of his character and leadership abilities. Instead of being feared by his caucus, like past speakers, Boehner lives in fear of his caucus.
This is also due to the declining influence of political parties, especially the GOP, in the Citizens United era where far-right billionaires can secretly fund tax exempt political organizations and Political Action Committees. This has essentially created "free agents" who owe their allegiance not to the party but to the "Kochtopus" organizations, Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, American Crossroads, etc. This corrupting influence of big money in politics has weakened party discpiline and cohesion. The speaker doesn't possess the power over his caucus that previous speakers possessed.
These campaign finance groups outside of the political party structure are able to threaten the speaker with rebellion through their free agents, and congressional members with a well-financed primary opponent to exert undue influence over legislative decisions. This is having a crippling effect on effective and efficient government. The country is at the mercy of a few dozen far-right billionaire Plutocrats who have purchased our electoral system to control our legislative process.