Whitehouse blames ‘deadly’ Tea Party and Hastert Rule for ‘dysfunction’

Whitehouse was critical of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for following the Hastert Rule, named after former Speaker Denny Hastert (R-Ill.), which means the Speaker will not bring a bill to the House floor unless a majority of his party supports the legislation. 

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Whitehouse pointed to the fact that the few times the House has passed important bipartisan bills have been when Boehner didn’t use the Hastert Rule. Whitehouse used the votes on avoiding the "fiscal cliff" tax increases and Hurricane Sandy relief as examples of what could be done with House Democrats' support along with some Republicans'.

“The only reason that these critical pieces of legislation avoided the fate of the highway bill and the farm bill is that the Speaker didn’t follow the Hastert Rule, and if his Tea Party Caucus had pushed America off the cliff, he knew there would be hell to pay,” Whitehouse said. “Now Tea Party lawmakers are up in arms that he waived the Hastert Rule ... so it’s probably back to the Hastert Rule on the House side and death-by-Tea Party to any bipartisan Senate legislation.”

Whitehouse said the bipartisan Senate-passed highway bill and farm bill were just a few measures that were “trapped in the sinkhole of the House” during the 112th Congress. He said Boehner and other Republicans are afraid of the Tea Party members of their conference, otherwise they would no longer follow the Hastert Rule in order to end legislative obstructionism.