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Boehner eschews Hastert rule for third time

After roughly a year and a half after its expiration, the Violence Against Women Act passed the House Thursday by 286-138 vote and will soon be reauthorized once it garners the president’s signature.

Earlier this year, the Senate passed a five-year re-authorization of the act by a bipartisan 78-22 vote. The House initially objected to the legislation, citing constitutional concerns about the prosecution of non-Native Americans on tribal lands.  

The House vote was significant, because, for the third time this year, on a significant piece of legislation, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) showed a willingness to bring a bill to the floor without abiding by the unwritten, so-called “Hastert Rule."

The rule, named after former Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois, says that a speaker only brings something to the House floor if it has the support of the majority of the majority.

In this case, three-fifths of Republicans voted against the legislation -- 138 against the bill with only 87 in support.

(The other two times Boehner has advanced a bill that won only a minority of the majority -- the fiscal cliff and Sandy relief.)

The vote also divided the House GOP leadership. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) voted against the bill, whereas Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) voted for it.

When asked by NBC News why he declined to support the Senate version of the bill, Cantor did not directly answer, instead touting his support for the House GOP version, which failed.

"I voted for the Violence Against Women Act the way we presented it in the House," Cantor insisted. "This is a bill that provides relief to domestic abuse; it does it in a way that protects the Constitutional rights of all Americans, and it does it in a way that doesn't discriminate where aid goes to in terms of victims of domestic abuse."

Democrats claimed the House GOP bill did not do enough to protect illegal immigrants, gay men and women, or Native Americans.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who over the last few weeks hammered the GOP for inaction, celebrated the passage of the bill, tweeting: “We did it! Today’s House passage of strong VAWA bill was a hard fought victory to preserve and strengthen security of all American women.”

*** Editor's note *** A previous edition of this story incorrectly noted that the Hastert Rule had been avoided four times instead of the correct three.