I mentioned in my morning contribution to the SOTUpalooza that Mark Strand of the Congressional Institute is supposed to be leading the immigration session at this week’s Republican retreat. That seemed an odd choice since the institute describes itself as “dedicated to helping Members of Congress better serve their constituents and helping their constituents better understand the operations of the national legislature.”
But a reader pointed me to the possible reason for his selection: an article he co-authored last year on the limits of the Hastert Rule, specifically in the context of passing an immigration bill. Some excerpts:
And this is why it will be difficult for Speaker Boehner to pass an immigration bill under the Hastert Rule — opponents of immigration reform only need to keep 117 Members in opposition and legislation will never get to the House floor — even though a bipartisan coalition of Democrats and Republicans might be able to forge a compromise that could pass the entire House.
Fair enough. But the end is more suggestive of his views:
Today, the great irony is that the small band of Republican renegades in Congress only want to follow the Hastert Rule and demand strict party loyalty when they agree with the majority of the Conference. They have no difficulty in splintering off on votes when they oppose the majority of their colleagues. In the end, this will either be their undoing, or the undoing of the Republican colleagues. Either the public will grow tired of an ineffective majority and vote them all out of the majority, or their fellow Republicans will grow tired of being held hostage to the most ideologically extreme of their colleagues and will begin to offer opportunities for more like minded Democrats to participate in crafting legislation.
So, amnesty and increased immigration are being blocked by a “small band” of “ideologically extreme” “renegades”? Music to Boehner’s (and Obama’s) ears. The speaker’s grudging promise to adhere to the Hastert Rule on any immigration legislation may have passed its expiration date.