WASHINGTON — Speaker of the House John Boehner said Tuesday that he would not bring the immigration reform bill to the floor if a majority of Republicans did not support it.
“I don’t see any way of bringing an immigration bill to the floor that doesn’t have majority support of Republicans,” Boehner told reporters at a press conference, NBC News reported.
The practice of only bringing bills to the floor that are supported by a majority of the majority is the known as Hastert Rule, after Speaker Dennis Hastert. Boehner has broken it several times this conference. In the past few days, critics have begun pressing him on the issue and whether he might use it again to push through the immigration reform bill currently being debated in the Senate.
Republican Rep. Dana Rohrbacher said Monday that Boehner ought to be “removed as Speaker” if he breaks the Hastert rule to bring the immigration bill to the floor, Politico reported. Last week, a number of conservative activists signed a letter from the Conservative Action Project urging House Republicans to codify the rule, saying that breaking it “empower[s] the liberal minority in the House.”
The bill, crafted by the bipartisan Gang of Eight — Sens. John McCain, Chuck Schumer, Marco Rubio, Dick Durbin, Lindsey Graham, Michael Bennet, Jeff Flake, and Bob Menendez — is a tough sell for House Republicans.
“I frankly think the Senate bill is weak on border security, I think the internal enforcement mechanisms are weak, and the triggers are almost laughable,” Boehner said Tuesday. “So if they’re serious about getting an immigration bill finished, they should reach out to their GOP colleagues to broaden support.”
“I’m increasingly concerned that the White House and Senate Democrats would rather have this as an issue in the 2014 election rather than a result,” he added.
Asked if that scuttled the chance that comprehensive immigration reform would pass this year, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said he remained optimistic that a bill would ultimately be brought to the floor.
“If the Senate passes a bipartisan bill, I think that the Republican leadership is going to be under great pressure to let the House work its will,” he told reporters at a briefing later on Tuesday.