CNN / YouTube Ex speaker Dennis Hastert released from...
CNN / YouTube

Denny Hastert is a convicted pedophile.

Republican Denny Hastert was Speaker of the House, elected by his Republican peers to the position.

As put as Roy Moore’s pedophilia emerged, Dennis Hastert is Congress’ forgotten pedophile.

While Speaker, Pedophile Republican Dennis Hastert instituted a rule, a non-often enough discussed by pundits (by The Village) rule that is core to Congressional dysfunction and a critical element in the pending (almost certain) Government Shutdown. 

The Hastert Rule is very simple and very pernicious in its simplicity: the Republican Majority in the House of Representatives will not allow a bill to the floor without the support of the majority of the majority.  

This means that if there is a bill passed by the Senate sent to the House … and every single House Democrat and 49.9% of the Republicans support it, the Republican speaker will not allow the bill to go to the House floor.

For ​​​​​​years, the GOP House has passed extreme bill after extreme bill with no Democratic Party support knowing that the Senate would not pass it.  And, reasonable compromise after reasonable compromise (on DACA and otherwise) garnered sufficient died on the shoals of The Hastert Rule.

The Hastert Rule empowers the Tea-Party and Trump-ista extremists, enabling a minority of Congress to drive what can and can’t become legislation.  

As Susan Grigsby put it,

I am old enough to remember the Congress before the Hastert rule, which requires a majority of the Majority Party’s votes before bringing any legislation to the floor, excluded the voices of the minority party in the House. The tenure of Dennis Hastert as Speaker of the House, set us on the road to where we are now and allowed the GOP, under John Boehner, to refuse consideration of any Democratic proposal made by the sitting president or other members of his party. According to Norm Ornstein, among Hastert’s other destructive measures, was the fact that he “blew up” the regular order of the House.

The regular order—a mix of rules and norms that allows debate, deliberation, and amendments in committees and on the House floor, that incorporates and does not shut out the minority (even if it still loses most of the time), that takes bills that pass both houses to a conference committee to reconcile differences, that allows time for members and staff to read, digest, and analyze bills—is a mainstay of a functional legislative process. To be sure, it is frequently subordinated to larger political exigencies, under the majorities of both political parties, especially in recent decades. No speaker has entirely clean hands.

But no speaker did more to relegate the regular order to the sidelines than Hastert. As Tom Mann and I describe in detail in our 2006 book “The Broken Branch,” Hastert presided over one of the worst moments for a deliberative body in modern times, the nearly three-hour vote in the dead of night to pass the Medicare prescription-drug bill—a vote that under the rules was supposed to last 15 minutes. The arm-twisting on the floor turned to something close to outright extortion, resulting in yet more admonitions for Tom DeLay. Under Hastert, amendments from Democrats and Republicans alike were squelched by a strikingly pliant Rules Committee; conferences were rarely held, and if they were, it was late at night and they were closed to input from all except loyal lieutenants; and provisions were sometimes added to conference reports that had never been in either House or Senate bills without notice to other lawmakers, among other indignities. And, of course, Hastert presided over the informal “Hastert rule,” doing whatever he could to avoid input from Democrats, trying to pass bills with Republicans alone. The House is a very partisan institution, with rules structured to give even tiny majorities enormous leverage. But Hastert took those realities to a new and more tribalized, partisan plane.

Norm Ornstein wrote that in 2015. Today, actions like the prescription drug bill’s passage, which were so shocking when they occurred, have become normalized.

If the US government is (partially) shutdown at the stroke of midnight, let us not forget that a key underlying element is the pernicious action of Pedophile Republican leader Hastert in creating the ‘majority of the majority’ and how his Republican successors have happily built on it to empower the most extremist elements of the Republican House to damage governance to the point of (again) driving a government shutdown.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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