The Washington Examiner reports that Speaker Boehner will not bring a comprehensive immigration-reform plan to the floor if a majority of Republicans don’t support it. This is normal Republican policy in the House (it’s known as the Hastert Rule). I had speculated, however, that Boehner might waive the rule in the case of immigration reform legislation by applying a lower threshold, say one-third support.
The Examiner reporter, David Drucker, cites multiple sources for his report, including Rep. Tom Cole. From what I’ve heard, Drucker, whose wife is the NRCC finance director, tends to have reliable GOP sources.
Boehner, of course, is not bound by what unnamed aides are telling reporters. Moreover, his views may be less categorical than the Examiner story implies. He may, in other words, be leaving more wiggle room than has come through “in translation.”
But there is an underlying political reality that may be driving Boehner toward strict adherence to the Hastert Rule when it comes to immigration. As one of Drucker’s sources notes, House Republicans are likely to suffer a greater voter backlash in the 2014 elections if they back the wrong immigration reform bill than if they simply do nothing on the issue.
Many in the Republican establishment believe that doing nothing is a formula for losing national election after national election. But this though need not induce panic among individual House members who are focused on 2014. All of them were elected in a year when the Hispanic vote overwhelmingly favored Democrats and and turned out in record numbers.
UPDATE: Here’s one bit of potential “wiggle room” I see for Boehner. The House passes immigration reform legislation that falls far short of what the Senate has passed and what the Senate Dems (plus Rubio, Graham, et al) deem acceptable. In conference, the Republicans cave. The House leadership then insists that there be an up-or-down vote now that the bill is back from conference.
In this scenario, the Senate Dems (plus Rubio, Graham, et al) get their amnesty legislation through the House with only a fairly low level of GOP support.