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Boehner pledges (but not really) to stick to ‘Hastert Rule’

The House speaker says: “It’s not a practice that I would expect to continue long term.”

As a quick follow-up to yesterday’s post about Speaker John Boehner’s evolving relationship to the “Hastert Rule,” which holds that the speaker shouldn’t allow a bill to come to a final vote in the House unless it has majority support in his own caucus:

Roll Call reports that: “At a closed-door conference meeting Tuesday, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia asked Boehner whether he planned to keep bringing forward bills that split the GOP conference,” and Boehner gave assurances that he wouldn’t do it all the time.

The Roll Call headline (“Boehner pledges to stick to the Hastert Rule”) is a pretty big overstatement, however. The actual quote from Boehner goes like this: “It’s not a practice that I would expect to continue long term.”

Pretty weak “pledge,” no? Translation: Boehner reserves the right to ignore the “rule” when he thinks its necessary or in the larger interest of the House, the nation or the Republican Party, but he understands that if he does it too often, he will eventually face a rebellion in the ranks. The challenge for him is to pick his spots carefully and the challenge for Democrats is to put him on the spot frequently.