The Key Point About The Export-Import Bank Passing The House

Dave Johnson

The House voted Tuesday to reauthorize the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank. The vote was an overwhelming 313-118, with 127 Republicans voting to reauthorize.

On September 30 the House passed a “clean” continuing budget resolution to keep the government in operation through mid-December. The House passed it overwhelmingly by 277-151.

So how is it that these were unable to pass before now, but then they pass overwhelmingly? The Ex-Im Bank had been shut down by the Republican Congress. The Republican Congress was ready to shut down the entire government rather than let it pass.

This is how: It is rarely, if ever, explained that the House Republican leadership follows something they call the “Hastert Rule.” This is not a formal rule of the House; it is an informal rule of the Republican Party as it is currently constituted and funded. (It was instituted by former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, who just pleaded guilty today to money-laundering charges connected to a sexual molestation allegation.) Nothing is allowed to come up for a vote unless a majority of Republicans would vote for it. And there are just enough of the “crazies” – the anti-government, anti-everything, far-right wingnuts – to prevent there from being a majority of Republicans to approve anything except the nuttiest, wildest, craziest, weirdest and most destructive stuff from being allowed to come up for a vote.

The key point: It does not matter if a majority of the House (and America) wants to pass something. Nothing can be voted on at all unless most Republicans want it. And “most” has to include the crazies. This is how the “donor class” of the Republican Party wants it, and they (usually) get what they want. So enough of the Republicans in the House will vote with the craziest to remove any speaker who does not continue this Hastert Rule, so it continues.

But this time John Boehner retired rather than let the crazies hold it over his head that they would have him removed as speaker if he allowed votes. And in retiring and taking that threat away, he allowed the votes. He did something good for the country, this one time.

Yes, this is nuts. Yes, this keeps the Republicans from being able to govern. Yes, this thwarts the will of the majority. Yes, this is flat-out blatant obstructionism, keeping the American majority from being allowed to get its way – even when that majority is overwhelming. But this is the way it is, the result of gerrymandering which is the result of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which is the result of the conservative movement’s billionaire- and corporate-funded, long-term, anti-government campaign to enable plutocracy to defeat democracy.

The Water Is Boiling Now And The Frog Doesn’t Know It: “Systemic collapse builds slowly and then happens very quickly. The water is boiling rapidly now. It’s clearly a question of when, not if.”

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