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PA-BGT: GOP Unity Hinders Bipartisan Possibilities

pa-state-capitol-b175d9a07740ecf3In 2003, then-Gov. Ed Rendell worked with Democratic and GOP Lawmakers to pass a $1 billion tax package. The vote faced opposition from most of the Republican lawmakers, and led to a tactic that would stymy such legislation: the majority of the majority rule.

It was inspired by the “Hastert Rule” then being used in the U.S. Congress

Today, the Republican-controlled legislature in Harrisburg is counting on that principle to keep Gov. Tom Wolf from passing a state budget.

According to Marc Levy of the AP, the “majority of the majority” rule holds that legislation cannot get a floor vote unless it has support from most Republican lawmakers. In the current legislature, a majority of the majority rule would require 77 Republicans to move forward on a bill.

Levy reports that GOP lawmakers are already lining up to invoke the majority of the majority power. State Rep. Justin Simmons says that he will “absolutely” adhere to the majority rule, saying that lawmakers who don’t would be “selling us out.”

Similarly, State. Sen. John Eichelberger says that Republicans who do give the budget their support will “alienate a lot of people in the caucus.”

Others, however, downplay the cogency of this rule. State Rep. Eugene DiGirolamo, who supported Rendell’s 2003 tax hike, says he is unsure that this standard can be enforced.

“We really have to be reasonable when we look at this stuff,” said DiGirolamo, who is proposing his own “middle of the road” tax approach.

7 Responses

  1. Regardless of this so-called “Hastert Rule”, some suspect convenient excuse, once the budget has been vetoed by the Governor, it is incumbent on the General Assembly to pass a budget that the Governor agrees to sign. If he does not agree, then you need 2/3rds majority to override. If you do not have this 2/3rds, then you are the obstructionists by inventing rules of convenience rather than honor the rules the public gave you in the state constitution.

    You are undermining the public’s trust in you when you undermine the state constitution. Time to put the confederate flags away and get down to work.

  2. The Hastert Rule is actually a Minority Rule. It means that an elected minority – the majority of the GOP caucuses – determine what laws may be enacted. No bill may become law without the approval of the minority, and a majority of elected representatives may only pass a bill if the minority permit them to do so. This isn’t new. It was the principle of governing for John C. Calhoun.

  3. KSDF – The governor offered a number of major concessions, but Turzai and Scarnati said on camera that they were not negotiating. Republicans passed a budget they knew would get vetoed just to play games – there isn’t a single Republican legislator who genuinely believed he would sign it. The Governor told House Dems to vote against his proposal because the Republicans brought it up as a gimmick.

    Leaving out critical context to create a misconception is called lying by omission. The challenges of governance are difficult enough without lying hacks running around muddying the water. If you disagree with the governor’s proposals, then stand by your convictions instead of trying to deceive others.

  4. Governor Wolf does not have the mandate he thinks he does. If not for Penn State and Sandusky, he’d still be riding around in his jeep selling cabinets.

  5. Governor Wolf received a statewide mandate to do exactly what he is doing in this budget fight. Republican legislators, on the other hand, carved the state up into arcane and illogical jigsaw puzzle pieces to keep their gerrymandered grip on the senate and house. Wolf should stand strong and let voters know who is to blame for this stalemate.

  6. The Republicans in the legislature passed a budget.
    Governor Wolf’s budget received zero votes.

    But keep telling me it’s Republicans’ fault.

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