The GOP leadership establishment in the U.S. House of Representatives has hinted it may snub the rank and file Republican members of the House by stating they may seek to pass gun control measures without a majority of support from House Republicans.
The stunning announcement came from House Majority Whip, U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who told CNN on Sunday, according to The Hill, that House Speaker John Boehner wants a major gun control bill to receive bipartisan approval even if it means the majority of House Republicans oppose it.
Such a bill would be fairly easy to pass even if only a minority of Republicans support it, as long as an overwhelming majority of Democrats vote in favor of the measure.
And this is precisely what Boehner and the Republican leadership establishment hint that they wish to do, pitting them in direct opposition to conservatives and the vast majority of Republicans in the House.
The tactic, further, would be a violation of what is known in the House as "the Hastert rule," named after former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who during his term as Speaker initiated a rule that no bill would be submitted to the House floor for a vote unless a majority of Republicans supported it.
Boehner and the GOP leadership in the House have routinely violated the Hastert rule in recent months, allowing bills to be passed in spite of heavy Republican opposition.
But Boehner has also stated that he does not want to continue the practice in the long term. Although he would like to get bills passed in the House so that they can moved to the Senate for consideration, Boehner insists that he is committed in most instances to submitting to the floor only those bills that are supported by "a majority of the majority," meaning a majority of the Republicans, the majority Party in the House.
Conservatives, libertarians, and gun rights activists, however, were alarmed when McCarthy suggested that Boehner may betray them on the gun rights issue by allowing Democrats and a small minority of establishment Republicans to pass a firearms control law that has little support among the citizens in the heartland.
One activist stated that if Boehner continues to hint that this is what he intends to do, there will be a groundswell of opposition to establishment Republicans that could potentially ruin the Party's chances taking control of the Senate or increasing their majority in the House during the 2014 midterm elections.
Such a move by Boehner and the leadership establishment could further ruin the GOP's chances for winning back the White House in 2016.
As one conservative leader put it, "If Republicans are going to act, talk, and vote like Democrats anyway, then why should we care if Democrats win in 2014 and 2016? And the gun issue is important enough for us to turn against Republicans just as thoroughly as we have Democrats."
(Hat tip to David Codrea).
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