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Dewonkify – Boehner Rule

The Word: Boehner Rule

Definition: The “Boehner Rule” is not a formal rule of the House of Representatives, but rather a procedural technique used by the Speaker of the House to bring legislation to the floor for a vote.

History: The “Hastert Rule,” named for former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, is a procedural technique that Republicans have used to bring legislation to floor only if it has the support of the majority of House Republicans. The current Speaker of the House, John Boehner, has at times abandoned the Hastert Rule in order to pass legislation that a majority of his Republican caucus would not support.  On at least three occasions (2012 fiscal cliff vote, Hurricane Sandy Relief bill, and the Violence Against Women Act), Speaker Boehner has used a new procedural technique that has been dubbed the “Boehner Rule” which basically allows the Senate to pass their bill first. Once the bill is passed by the Senate, Speaker Boehner calls the bill up for a vote in the House. Usually this technique can muster up the needed votes by both House Democrats and Republicans to pass the measure.

Used in a Sentence: “Mainly, what they seem to want is solved by the `Boehner Rule’ that involves having the Senate act first on most things.” From “Hastert Rule/Boehner Rule,”  by Jonathan Bernstein, Washington Post, April 11, 2013.

Why It’s Relevant: With the continued fraction within the House Republican Caucus Speaker Boehner may have to use the “Boehner Rule” to pass a clean continuing resolution (CR) to end the government shutdown and/or to raise the debt ceiling set to expire on October 17th.

**The Boehner Rule may also refer to Speaker Boehner’s insistence of “at least one dollar in spending cuts for every dollar of debt increase”:  “As Boehner put it, from now on `any increase debt limit has to be accompanied by spending reductions that meet or exceed it.’ It became known as the Boehner Rule.” From“Why did the GOP surrender the spending fight?” by Marc A. Thiessen, Washington Post, October 7, 2013.

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About this Author

Jeremy R. Scott, Government relations lawyer, Drinker Biddle
Senior Vice President, District Policy Group

Jeremy R. Scott has a broad range of government relations and lobbying experience in government, health care policy, and in representing and advancing legislative interests of nonprofit, advocacy and health organizations. He has particular skill and knowledge in strategic planning, working the federal appropriations and authorization processes, planning and executing Capitol Hill advocacy days, and developing grassroots and grasstops programs. He is a member of the firm’s District Policy Group.

Jeremy’s clients include nonprofit and patient...