U.S. House Speaker John Boehner has been hiding something called the Hastert Rule, named after former Speaker Dennis Hastert, one of Boehner’s predecessors.
The Hastert Rule means that nothing goes to a vote if it doesn’t first have the support of most members of the party that runs the House of Representatives.
The time is at hand for Boehner to throw the Hastert Rule in the trash bin. The U.S. Senate very well could present the House with a plan to extend the nation’s debt ceiling and reopen the part of the government that’s been shut down for two weeks.
Both of these things likely would be short-term repairs. They would, however, stave off the first default on our obligations in American history. If that occurs at midnight, world financial markets could collapse, the U.S. credit rating would plummet and a new recession could occur, causing significant pain and misery for millions of Americans.
Boehner has been shackled to the will of about 30 or so members of his Republican caucus who want to attach certain conditions on the debt ceiling increase and reopening the government. It’s time he showed some guts.
It’s a fairly open secret that most members of the entire House want this debacle to end. The speaker, I hasten to add, is the man in charge of the entire legislative chamber. His “constituents,” such as they are, do not comprise merely the Republican majority. Depending on who’s doing the counting, Democrats are virtually united in their support of Senate efforts to end this madness. Add their numbers to the substantial number of Republicans who also want it to end, and I’m pretty sure you come up with far more than 218 House members, which is the minimum number of votes needed to approve a deal.
So, what’s it going to be, Mr. Speaker? Are you going to allow this catastrophe to occur or are you going to exercise the enormous power you have by virtue of your high office to get something done?