These are not official regulations; they're more shibboleths that House GOP leaders have adopted in recent years. And those rules are leaving House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, little room to maneuver as lawmakers try to avoid a set of tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect at the end of the year.
1. "The majority of the majority"
...Under this de facto rule, no bill is brought up for a vote when Republicans control the House unless a majority of their caucus supports it....
...Longtime Congress-watcher Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute said the majority of the majority rule is a major reason why bills passed on a bipartisan basis in the Senate don't come up in the House.
"We've got the Republicans now as a parliamentary-style minority. In a parliamentary system, it is just a matter of course that the parties unite together in opposition to the other side," he said. "But you can't function that way with divided government."
2. Any increase in the debt ceiling must be matched by an equal decrease in spending
With the rise of the Tea Party came this rule governing increases in the nation's borrowing limit — and one has to happen very soon.
Boehner's insistence on such a dollar-for-dollar deal led to last year's debt ceiling crisis; last week he said he'll do the same this time.
"I continue to believe that any increase in the debt limit has to be accompanied by spending reductions that meet or exceed it," he said...
...3. No new taxes
After Obama's re-election, Boehner softened this rule a bit, although not enough to accommodate the tax rate hikes on the wealthy the president seeks.
"We're willing to put revenues on the table, but revenues that come from closing loopholes, getting rid of special interest deductions, and not raising rates," Boehner said Friday.
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