As Paul Ryan takes over as Speaker of the House, he does so under a fundamental restraint on the use of his new gavel. He vowed to preserve the “Hastert Rule” established by former Speaker Dennis Hastert.
After Ryan met with House members to win their support, Republican Rep. Mo Brooks wrote him a note. Observing that Ryan talks more quickly than Brooks can write, the Alabamian wanted to make one thing clear:
As Speaker, you will not allow any immigration bill to reach the House Floor for a vote unless the immigration bill is “supported by a majority of the majority” of Republican House Members.
That’s the Hastert rule—an important principle that empowers conservative Republican lawmakers to block legislation proposed by more establishment Republicans.
Without the Hastert rule, the GOP’s establishment leadership in the House could sideline strong conservative opposition by picking up votes from establishment Democrats.
The incoming speaker wasted no time in agreeing with Brooks’ message.
“Paul Ryan called me and stated that my letter accurately portrayed his immigration representations,” Brooks writes on his Web page. “Paul Ryan confirmed that he meant what he said and would keep his word.”
All this, of course, refers specifically to immigration. But, having vowed to follow the Hastert rule on that hot-button issue, Ryan would seem duty bound to follow it on other issues as well.
Time will tell.