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Did Democrats finally find a way to bypass House Republicans?

January 16, 2013, at 12:15 PM
 

For the second time in two weeks, the House passed legislation by violating the so-called "Hastert rule," which states that any bill brought to a vote on the House floor must be supported by a majority of the majority party.

Republicans have used the Hastert rule consistently since House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) wielded the gavel in the 1990s to effectively limit the power of Democrats.

Last night, the House passed a bill to aid Hurricane Sandy relief efforts by a 241 to 180 vote. But as First Read notes, "the real story is the vote breakdown: Only 49 Republicans voted for the measure — so just 20 percent of the caucus — while a whopping 179 Republicans voted against the measure. By comparison, 192 Democrats voted for the legislation, and just one (Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper) voted against."

Likewise, the House passed legislation on New Year's Day to avert the "fiscal cliff" by a 257 to 167 vote, with just 85 Republicans joining 172 Democrats to pass the measure.

Dennis Hastert isn't pleased and told Fox News Radio that Republicans are slowly losing control: "Maybe you can do it once, maybe you can do it twice, but when start making deals, when you have to get Democrats to pass the legislation, you are not in power anymore."

It's not going to work with every bill considered in Congress, but for those that are overwhelming supported by the American public — such as hurricane relief and cutting taxes — Democrats may have finally found a way around their biggest obstacle to passing legislation.

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

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