Helaine hates when I write about politics. I beg her forgiveness. This is a subject that’s crazily important and little known. It’s called the Hastert Rule.
Denny Hastert, formerly House Speaker Denny Hastert, is a pretty disgusting man who went to prison for his deeds, both fiscal and physical. This isn’t about that.
The Hastert Rule guides Congress. It’s not a real rule, but a custom which is followed. Here’s Wikipedia’s tl:dr.
The Hastert Rule, also known as the “majority of the majority” rule, is an informal governing principle used in the United States by Republican Speakers of the House of Representatives since the mid-1990s to maintain their speakerships and limit the power of the minority party to bring bills up for a vote on the floor of the House. Under the doctrine, the Speaker will not allow a floor vote on a bill unless a majority of the majority party supports the bill
That means a bill which could pass the House with a consensus of Republicans and Democrats doesn’t reach the floor unless it has support of 51% of the Republican congressmen. It’s why the 35ish members of the House’s conservative Freedom Caucus can stall something that could find 35, or more, Democratic replacement votes.
The practical effect is to move the ruling party (I assume the Dems would do the same or similar) farther from consensus, farther from the middle, farther to the right. The acronyms you’re hearing about today: DACA and CHIP could be solved quickly by a majority that already exists! It just seems crazy.
This is politics at its worst because it elevates party over country.
H, don’t be angry.