Dennis Hastert Warns John Boehner About Leadership After Fiscal Cliff Deal


Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) cast concern on House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) leadership after he moved to pass the fiscal cliff bill without a majority of the party's caucus, a violation of Hastert's rule.

"Here is the problem. Maybe you can do it once, maybe you can do it twice, but when you start making deals when you have to get Democrats to pass the legislation, you are not in power anymore," Hastert said on Fox News Radio Thursday.

Boehner passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, extending the Bush-era tax rates for earners under $400,000 and $450,000 for married couples, with only 85 out of 241 members of his caucus. Democrats provided an additional 172 votes, while 16 Dems voted against. The bill is a violation of the "Hastert Rule": only legislation supported by a majority of the majority party can be brought to the floor. The rule is designed to limit the ability of minority members to co-opt a few majority members and pass legislation.

"When you start passing stuff that your members are not in line with, all of a sudden your ability to lead is in jeopardy because somebody else is making decisions," Hastert continued. "The president is making decisions, Pelosi is making decisions, or they are making the decisions in the Senate. All tax bills and all spending bills under the Constitution start in the House. When you give up that responsibility you really give up your responsibility to govern, and that is the problem."

Boehner reportedly wanted to pass a bill with majority support. He told members on a conference call in late December, "I’m not interested in passing something with mostly Democrat votes," according to Politico. But that is exactly what he ended up doing.

"When you say that, you isolate yourself. If you're not doing it, who is?" he said. "That's a problem, because if you're not doing it, somebody else is cutting the deals."

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