Hastert, the Republican speaker from 1999 to 2007, overrode the rule at least twice. In one case, he let Democratic votes carry the load on a stem cell research bill everyone knew President George W. Bush would veto. Hastert also yielded to pressure to let the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill pass even though most House Republicans opposed it.
Aides to Boehner say he believes in, and abides by, the "majority of the majority" rule without declaring it an iron-clad requirement. They did not respond to messages asking if Boehner might consider ignoring the rule to avert the "fiscal cliff."
John Feehery, who was a top aide to Hastert, said he doubted that would happen.
Boehner "could put something on the floor and vote against it," Feehery said. But it's more likely, he said, that Boehner and other Republicans will let the Dec. 31 deadline pass. That would send the government over the cliff and let virtually all tax rates rise, at least for a while.
Then early next year, Feehery said, lawmakers could "vote to cut taxes rather than vote to raise taxes."
Either way, the richest Americans will see their tax cuts expire. Boehner's hold on his speakership, however, might be stronger if he makes no break in the "majority of the majority" rule.
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