From Inquirer staff writer Theodore Schleifer:
If former U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Trent Lott had House Speaker John Boehner’s job, he’d bring the Senate immigration bill up for a floor vote in the House, even though a majority of fellow Republicans oppose the idea Lott said in an interview in Philadelphia Tuesday afternoon.
In town for a panel on bipartisanship and public service at the National Constitution Center, Lott said he understood the logic behind Boehner’s decision to keep the bill in his back pocket -- putting it up for a vote and angering his caucus could cost him his job. So Boehner has invoked the Hastert rule, an informal precedent set by former Speaker Denny Hastert that blocks a bill unless it has support of the majority of the majority party.
Still, Lott said he would allow a vote on the controversial measure.
“If you don’t have the majority of your conference that you’re leading, and you do that too much, you won’t be the leader very long,” Lott said after the event. “As for myself, I would do it if it meant losing my job,” he later added.
Though 14 Republican senators voted last month for the bill, which passed on a 68-32 vote, most House Republicans don’t support it, by Boehner’s count. The bill would likely pass the House with the support of Democrats and a small number of Republican defectors.
Lott said he understood that Boehner may fear losing his job if he failed to invoke the Hastert rule. But Lott said he’d do it differently if he led the House.
“But now remember, I came from a different time and I am a different personality. I used to make the Senate act when they didn’t want to act,” he said. Lott was majority leader from 1996 to 2001 before leaving GOP leadership after he praised segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond. He resigned from the Senate in December 2007.
Lott however declined to directly say whether Boehner himself should be invoking the Hastert rule.