Speaker Johnson violates Hastert Rule to help pass spending plan to avert shutdown

 March 23, 2024

In a significant departure from party protocol, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) spearheaded the passage of a monumental $1.2 trillion government funding plan.

The move raised objections from the majority of House Republicans and shattered the longstanding Hastert Rule, marking a dangerous turn for his speakership's future.

The Hastert Rule

The Hastert Rule, an entrenched tradition within House Republicans, bars Republican Speakers from collaborating with Democrats to advance legislation.

Despite resistance from 112 Republican colleagues, Johnson disregarded this rule and shepherded the bill to the Senate, securing only 101 Republican votes in favor.

Johnson and his leadership team exerted considerable pressure to push the bill through, also breaching a House regulation mandating ample time for lawmakers to review proposed legislation.

The sprawling spending bill, exceeding 1,000 pages, was unveiled to members shortly before 3:00 a.m. Eastern on Thursday, less than 36 hours before the scheduled vote.

Next steps

The legislation was passed and will move through the Senate and then the president's desk to avoid a Saturday deadline that would shut down the government.

Although a partial government shutdown technically looms post-midnight Saturday morning, its significant ramifications would likely not manifest until Monday.

Prior to the vote, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) lodged a motion to vacate the chair, anticipating Johnson's flouting of the Hastert Rule and raising objections to the broader procedural, policy, and spending aspects of the contentious bill.

“I’m not saying that it won’t happen in two weeks or it won’t happen in a month or who knows when. But I am saying the clock has started. It’s time for our conference to choose a new speaker,” she said.

While this motion lacks privilege and does not compel immediate action from the House, Greene retains the option to elevate its status to privileged in the future.

Tarnished future?

Greene's preemptive move increases pressure on Johnson. The House will return after a two-week Easter recess, with Johnson confronting a potential rebellion from some fellow Republicans.

Greene's resolution serves as a stark warning to Johnson regarding the consequences of advancing a bill to fund Ukraine's conflict with Russia using American taxpayer funds.

Even with the current bill moving forward, another spending bill will soon be required in October. Johnson is poised to encounter more obstacles in navigating government funding discussions by that deadline, facing conflict from his own party.

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