This is exactly what you want to hear with bills on gun control and immigration in the pipeline.
Dude, I’m nervous.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) signaled Thursday that he may continue to bypass a House Republican rule [i.e. the “Hastert Rule”] that has required any legislation being voted upon to have the support of a majority of the GOP conference…
He said at a news conference Thursday that he will continue to try and follow it in spirit, but also suggested he might well violate it for upcoming votes on guns, immigration and the budget.
“Listen: It was never a rule to begin with,” Boehner said. “And certainly my prerogative – my intention is to always pass bills with strong Republican support.”
He’s violated the Hastert Rule several times on budgetary matters, most notably the fiscal-cliff deal (and as recently as two days ago), but caving on cultural hot-buttons like background checks and amnesty has the makings of a Category Five shinolastorm among the base. Some House conservatives are already warning him not to cross the line:
The effort is being led by Reps. Paul Broun, a Senate hopeful gunning for Georgia’s open seat, and Steve Stockman, a Texas Republican who gained notoriety earlier this year for inviting rocker/2nd Amendment-defender Ted Nugent to the State of the Union.
“We are writing to express our strong opposition to legislation requiring private sale background checks for firearms purchases,” the letter reads. “Under the precedents and traditions of the House, we would ask that no gun legislation be brought to the floor of the House unless it has the support of a majority of our caucus.”…
A spokesman for Rep. Stockman says more than 45 Republicans have signed the letter, although it’s doubtful a “Hastert majority” of the House GOP will endorse it.
Other House members are warning him to follow regular order on immigration and not try to rush the bill through. Could a bill even get through GOP-dominated House committees, though? The only way to get something passed might be to violate both the Hastert Rule and regular order: Bypass the committees, rush something to the floor, and then hope that a unanimous Democratic caucus and critical mass of 30 or so GOP squishes rams it through. The question is, what if that happens? Will the caucus, under the microscope of a shady amnesty vote, be forced to oust him as Speaker? Or is Jonathan Bernstein right that tea-party congressmen kind of like the idea of seeing popular legislation pass, which arguably helps the party in the aggregate, while being able to vote no on it, which helps them in their home districts? It’s certainly true that, for all of Boehner’s anti-Hastert-Rule heresies, there’s been no serious effort to depose him. But maybe on immigration and, especially, on guns, the caucus would have no choice. If a bad bill passes and they don’t dump him, conservatives back home might hold it against them regardless of whether they voted no on the bill itself.