Untangling the Spin: Will House Move on Amnesty Without the Support of Republican Majority?

Over the past couple days, the immigration spotlight shifted to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).  The question everyone in Washington is asking is whether Speaker Boehner would bring a comprehensive immigration reform plan to the floor without the support of a majority of Republicans; in other words, would he violate the Hastert rule for the fifth time in 2013.

The Washington Examiner reminds us of Boehner’s comments last week:

“My goal is always to bring bills to the floor that have a strong Republican majority,” Boehner said. “Immigration reform is a very difficult issue. But I don’t intend to bring an immigration bill to the floor that violates what I and what members of my party — what our principles are.”

Two key words – “goal” and “intend” – leave wiggle room, leading to conflicting reports like this from National Journal:

Plaguing House leadership is a fear among conservatives that immigration reform could be one of those few pieces of legislation that Boehner might value enough to bring to the floor knowing it would pass even though it fails to get the majority of House Republicans to back it.

“This is one of those issues where they may only get 80 to 100 Republicans to vote for it on the House floor, but there won’t be the huge internal backlash,” the former aide said. “And that gives (leadership) some room to maneuver and they have some conservative cover. They have (Sen. Marco) Rubio and (Rep. Raul) Labrador,” who are two key conservative Republicans pushing reform.

In an attempt to clear up the confusion, Boehner told reporters today “I don’t see any way of bringing an immigration bill to the floor that doesn’t have a majority support of Republicans.”

Conservatives have called on Speaker Boehner to follow the Hastert rule, which is a critical means of combating the growth of government and the liberal agenda and “as the last backstop against the worst excesses of liberalism and Washington deal-making.”

And this is not just conservative rhetoric.  It’s based on reality.  Just look at some of the legislation that has passed in violation of the Hastert rule – bills that contributed to spending growth and growth of government – since Republicans took control of the House in 2011.

There was Obamacare for veterinarians bill during the 112th Congress.  This passed by a vote of 280 to 138.  Republicans voted against the bill 95 to 138.  No matter.  Democrats made sure it passed with 185 voting in favor and 0 voting against this expansion of Obamacare.

Then there was the Fiscal Cliff deal that increased taxes at the end of the 112th Congress.  Remember that?  Republicans voted against this bill 85 yes votes to 151 no votes.  Democrats voted in favor of the bill, 172 to 16.

Then there was the Sandy Supplemental, which experienced massive Republican opposition, 49 yes votes to 179 no votes. Yet, it passed with the support of 192 Democrats, and only 1 Democrat voted no.  This bill was full of unrelated spending, and the “emergency” spending would not be fully spent for 22+months.

We can’t forget the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which has not been proven to protect women from violence at all and violates the Constitution.   Republicans opposed this bill by a vote of 87 to 138, and it passed with Democrats supporting it 199 to 0.

And finally, the House voted to pass some battlefield pork.  Though Republicans opposed the bill, 101 to 122, Democrats brought this bill to the finish line with a vote of 182 to 0.

While the Hastert Rule does not guarantee responsible governing, it provides conservatives some leverage to stop big-government bills in a town dominated by big-government interests.

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