In a sweetheart plea bargain condemned by many across a broad spectrum of politics and the criminal justice system, former Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert (R, IL) has now plead guilty to one felony for what was essentially a money laundering scheme intended to hide a seven-figure payoff made to continue the concealment of illegal activities in which Hastert engaged decades earlier. The outrageous part of the plea bargain is not the fact that the additional felonies are being dismissed, but that for a crime
The “Hastert Rule” says that though a majority of members of Congress would vote yes on a bill, the bill does not have to be brought up for a vote if it lacks support from a majority of the House’s ruling party. Thus, if a bill has the support of 240 members of the House, the Speaker can ignore the bill, never to see the light of day, if that 240 number does not include 50% plus one of his own party. For decades, one key piece of legislation after another, vital to the interests and well-being of millions of Americans, has been denied a vote, due to this gop-created requirement, named after the discredited former Speaker of the House but actually first used by his predecessor, Newt Gingrich.
The latest example of the wide array of travesties caused by the use of the Hastert Rule is Congress’ failure this past month to renew the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which established a program to provide medical evaluations, treatment, and medication for those who suffered often debilitating and permanent injuries and illnesses through their heroic actions following the World Trade Center attacks. The Act, originally passed five years ago after widespread republican opposition, was to last for only a five year period, concluding at the end of September, 2015. A bill to renew the program for another five years had the support of those 240 members of Congress, well more than the 218 votes needed for passage, but NOT that 50% plus one among house republicans, and thus it was not brought to the floor for a vote, with no further action planned.
YOUR republican Congress, and the Hastert Rule, in action.
That comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate a few years ago was denied a vote in the House because of the Hastert Rule, as have untold numbers of other bills, supported by bipartisan groups of Congressmen, but not favored by a majority of the republican chopping block, and everyone suffers.