What is the Hastert rule
"We need to talk"
Moderate Democrats and Republicans are common interest groups
By Markus Pindur
- The US Capitol in Washington
The US has just got around the fiscal cliff when the next dispute between Republicans and Democrats is on the way with the debt limit. But displeasure with the ideological hardening is growing. Now representatives of both camps want to rediscover the political center and the political compromise.
Republican House spokesmen do not allow votes to be taken on bills that are not supported by a majority of Republicans. This is called the Hastert Rule: Dennis Hastert was the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the late 1990s. According to Hastert, its primary task is to satisfy the majority of the majority parliamentary group.
It was different for decades. Major laws were almost always passed with a substantial number of MPs from both parties - a peculiarity of the American system of government, in which MPs are committed to their constituency rather than their party.
But that is taking a back seat, both parties, especially the Republicans, have hardened ideologically over the past 20 years. Willingness to talk and compromise are the exception, no longer the rule.
The Democratic Senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin, and the former Republican Governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman want to take countermeasures and have therefore founded the non-partisan group No Labels.
"What Congress lacks today is a problem-solver group, Republicans and Democrats. We want to have 75 or 80 members in Congress by the end of the year. With so many MPs and senators talking about what's possible, about solving problems, then we can get a sizeable impact. "
The last two-year term of the House of Representatives was the most unproductive in the history of the United States, according to John Huntsman. His departure from the Republican candidate field for the presidential candidacy was largely attributed to the fact that Huntsman represented too moderate political positions. The No Labels group currently has around 25 Democrats and Republicans - one of the organizers is John Cowan, he worked in the Clinton administration:
"No Labels is not about political positioning on the right, left or in the middle. It is about urging our politicians from both parties to get together, to find common ground and to solve the country's problems."
The task is to revive a political virtue that is actually originally American: to find a compromise. With its radical agenda, the Tea Party in particular always thinks of the compromise in Washington as dirty.
The House's Republican spokesman, John Boehner, had the experience when only a third of his own parliamentary group followed him in the tax compromise on New Year's Eve - for the first time in almost 20 years he did not follow the Hastert rule because of this - and found a majority coalition of Democrats and Republicans together.
The R'n'B superstar Akon even designed his own anthem for No Labels. It is unclear whether the No Labels group can counterbalance the polarized situation in Washington. Most Republican MPs fear that if they move too much into the middle they will make themselves vulnerable in their constituencies - the same goes for many Democrats, by the way. Ultimately, the voter has to decide. Only when more moderate MPs are re-elected to the House of Representatives will the current blockade also dissolve. However, that will take at least until the next elections in two years. Maybe even a little longer.
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