Type to search

Dennis Hastert: ‘Real Hastert Rule Is 218; If We Had To Work With Democrats, We Did’

Memo Pad Politics

Dennis Hastert: ‘Real Hastert Rule Is 218; If We Had To Work With Democrats, We Did’


Three days into the shutdown that has paralyzed the federal government, it’s become apparent that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) could end the standoff at any moment he chooses. The Huffington Post reports that as of Wednesday afternoon,  20 House Republicans are willing to pass a “clean” continuing resolution that would fund the government at sequester levels, without any Obamacare-related demands attached. This is three more than the 17 Republicans who would need to join Democrats to pass the Senate’s budget bill.

Republican representative Jon Runyan of New Jersey expressed what others like him are now feeling: “Enough is enough. Put a clean [continuing resolution] on the floor and let’s get on with the business we were sent to do.”

Despite now having the votes, however, Speaker Boehner has refused to bring a bill to the floor, citing the so-called “Hastert Rule.”

Under the Hastert Rule, a House Speaker should not allow a vote on any legislation that is not supported by a majority of the majority party, which is the Speaker’s caucus.

The rule is named after former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who said that relying on the other party for the majority of votes was “something I would not generally do,” during a 2006 press conference.

Boehner has waived the rule in the past, but most recently he has used it to justify not bringing a new bill to the floor. He might have to reconsider his stance, though, because Hastert is now saying that the “Hastert Rule is kind of a misnomer,” and nothing more.

On Wednesday, Hastert explained to The Daily Beast that when he made the 2006 comments, he was “speaking philosophically” and that it “wasn’t a rule.”

The former Speaker then explained that “the real Hastert Rule is 218,” referring to the number of votes needed in the House for a bill to pass. He then continued: “if we had to work with Democrats, we did.”

Although Hastert did not say whether or not Boehner should waive the Hastert Rule and admitted that he and the current Speaker do not talk, he did offer some insight that Boehner might find handy: “We had to find a way to compromise and get things done. I wasn’t a show horse; I wasn’t on TV programs.”

“You can’t be in Congress and shut down the government and get anything done. It’s an oxymoron,” Hastert added.

Photo: ASIS International via Flickr.com


  1. JD Mulvey October 3, 2013

    I’m not even sure that the “Hastert Rule” is the real issue anymore, because the die-hard wackjobs may not even be a majority of their own caucus at this point.

    80 House Republicans signed Mark Meadows’ letter advocating the shutdown strategy, and it appears they’ve lost some support since then –most press reports put the number of remaining wingnuts at somewhere between 30 and 70.

    But their caucus has 232 members.

    Assuming for the sake of argument that this is the same breakdown of who would or wouldn’t support Boehner if he sent the clean continuing resolution to the floor, it means his Speakership wouldn’t even be in any real danger.

    It’d be bad enough if he was willing to destroy the nation’s government and economy to keep his job. Instead he appears willing to destroy both just because he fears being called a “RINO” by less than 10% of the members of the House.

    Why he’s so terrified is puzzling, though. What’s the point of reaching a position of power if you won’t use it for the good of the country?

    1. disqus_ivSI3ByGmh October 4, 2013

      As the House leader, Boehner makes a great bartender. As Speaker of the House, his job is NOT to pander to the interests of 40 members of his party, but to manage the operations of the House.
      This level of partisanship was never seen before the Gingrich Speakership. Newt ran roughshod over the rules, policies and traditions of the House, allowing K Street to write legislation, locking Democrats out of drafting meetings, etc. Unfortunately, this was continued by Hastert (who did whatever Tom DeLay told him to do) and to some extent by Pelosi (who was truly the most unprepared for the job since William Pennington).
      Maybe we do need a new election for speaker. But as bad as Cryin’ John is, can you imagine how much worse it would be with either Cantor or Paul Ryan?

      1. highpckts October 4, 2013

        That’s an amen!!

  2. Lynda Groom October 3, 2013

    I’m sure that the Speaker of the House was well aware of the fiction of the Hastert Rule, but the radicals in his caucas are wagging the dog. The only way for the Speaker to save any chance of a legacy is to put the clean CR before the House, ask Nancy and the Democrats to save the house from further lunacy. Of course the chances of that seem extreme at this time, but as time goes by not so much.

  3. docb October 4, 2013

    The current gop crazies even rewrite their own version of the rules that real republicans lived by..Shameless horrid little children!

  4. Montesquieu October 5, 2013

    In this YouTube video we find a typical example of the foreign ideology espoused by today’s liberal democrats: http://youtu.be/1WcM3P-Gmh8?t=28s


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.