While the Senate has taken important first steps in considering a comprehensive immigration bill, progress in the House has been more halting. The Senate voted overwhelming to proceed to consideration of the bill and while there were many controversial amendments, early signs are that the Senate Gang of Eight may be able to fend off efforts that would further complicate passage of the bill. In the House, the dynamic is far more complicated.
Speaker Boehner has said that immigration reform was one of the most important pieces of legislation for the House to consider and predicted that they will pass a bill this year. However, the road is quite bumpy in the House.
Conservative Republicans, fearing a scenario where a comprehensive immigration bill passes with overwhelming Democratic support and a minority of Republicans, are trying to marshal support for an effort that would require all measures brought to the floor be in conformance with the so-called Hastert Rule. Under the Hastert Rule, only legislation that enjoys majority support of the majority party is scheduled for consideration. It is hard to see any bill that could garner the support of the Senate or the signature of the President passing the House without significant Republican opposition and Democratic support. Indeed, the Speaker's office and other members of the Republican leadership have been cautious in predicting whether a majority of the Republican conference will support immigration reform. The Speaker said that it is always a "goal" to pass legislation with a majority of Republican votes but wouldn't rule out bringing a bill to the floor that didn't have that level of Republican support.
Author - George C. Crawford