Speaker John A. Boehner looked to shore up his right flank Wednesday ahead of a looming battle over immigration as the Senate lurched its way to the finish line.
The Supreme Court, meanwhile, gave the issue a lift by taking the thorny issue of gay rights off the table, while advocates continued to march on Congress and demand action.
The Ohio Republican reaffirmed his commitment to House Republicans on Wednesday that he would not bring up the Senate bill for a vote in the House. While that bill has significant Republican support — and seems certain to get close to 70 votes on final passage — it has also faced a sizable backlash among parts of the party’s base.
According to a source in the room, Boehner told lawmakers Wednesday morning that the House would do its own bill “through regular order and it’ll be a bill that reflects the will of our majority and the people we represent.”
Boehner referred to a letter from himself and other GOP leaders that said the House would not take up a Senate-passed immigration bill. It’s still not clear how the House will bring up its own bill. Bringing smaller, individual bills to the floor could allow the House to pass the most popular immigration measures among Republicans, leaving the tough issues to a conference with the Senate. The way ahead will depend on the response members get when they return to their districts next week for the July Fourth break.
No Clear Path
Rank-and-file members predicted an unsteady ride ahead.
“If you insist on no compromises from the ‘gang of eight,’ yeah, they’re not going to get it done,” said Matt Salmon, R-Ariz. “If you’re earnest, then you’re saying, ‘We’re willing to come up with a solution, but we’re not going to give the store away.’ We’re not going to do something that we believe is bad policy just to get votes in the next election.”
Salmon has led an insurgent effort to codify the “Hastert rule” setting a “majority of the majority” requirement for bringing legislation to the floor.
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., predicted the immigration timeline could slip behind looming budget battles.
“I wouldn’t be expecting us to vote on immigration by the end of the year, if not early next year,” Cole said. He said he did not see how a “a big immigration brouhaha” would help the House deal with more immediate concerns, such as averting a government shutdown and dealing with the debt ceiling. Hispanic Rep. Raúl R. Labrador, R-Idaho, who walked out of House compromise talks after months of negotiations, said the GOP would lose in the next elections if it tried to “buy votes” with an immigration overhaul.