In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulous that aired Tuesday morning, House Speaker John Boehner hinted that he would clear a significant hurdle to immigration reform passing through the House of Representatives.
During the interview, Stephanopoulous asked Boehner if he would let the bill in the House come to the vote, even if it means he has to break the so-called “Hastert Rule” — meaning that he would let it come to the floor even if he wasn’t sure it would have support form a majority of Republicans.
“George, I — listen,” Boehner said. “I’ve allowed the House to work with — well, more than any speaker in modern history, to the point where there are some bills that have passed — with a majority of Democrats in favour, and a minority of Republicans.”
“And you’re willing to do that with immigration?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“I’ve been criticised for it. What I’m committed to is a fair and open process on the floor of the House, so that all members have an opportunity,” Boehner said.
“It’s not about what I want. It’s about what the House wants. And my job is, as speaker, is to ensure that all members on both sides have a fair shot at their ideas.”
Boehner hedged and said he thought that the House’s immigration bill would be “to the right” of the bill currently being debated in the Senate.
But Boehner breaking the “Hastert rule,” which is credited to former Speaker Dennis Hastert, is perhaps the key to immigration reform passing through the House. A majority of Republicans do not support a broad path to citizenship for undocumented citizens currently residing in the U.S., and the House’s conservative base is vehemently opposed to what it terms as “amnesty.”
Boehner has been willing to bring big bills to the floor without majority support. Most recently, he did so when he allowed the fiscal-cliff-solving bill to come to the floor, even as 151 Republicans voted against it.
Boehner’s tell here is significant — it means that the House could theoretically pass a bill similar to the Senate’s with a majority of Democrats passing the bill.
Meanwhile in the Senate, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) became the first Republican outside of the “gang of eight” to signal support for the bill being debated in the legislative body. That means there are five Republicans supporting the bill — and a Democratic aide said last week that could become a pattern among more moderate Republicans.
“I think there are some Republicans who know that their political survival depends on this bill passing, and are concerned at what appears to be some backsliding within their party,” the aide told Business Insider. “They may want to send a signal that this bill is going to pass, period.”
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