Now that the Senate has passed amnesty legislation, attention shifts to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to see if he will keep his word by not taking up the 1,200 page Senate bill.
With House Republicans planning to meet on July 10 to discuss immigration, Boehner has attempted to shore up conservative support by finally insisting he will not move a bill that lacks the support of a majority of Republicans in the House — known as the “Hastert rule” after a former House Speaker.
Importantly, Speaker Boehner said he would maintain the Hastert rule for legislation the two chambers may “conference” together. “For any legislation — including the conference report — to pass the House it’s going to have to be a bill that has the support of the majority of our members,” Boehner insisted. (Politico, Jun. 27, 2013) When the House and Senate pass different bills, they must go to what’s referred to as a “conference committee” to hash out the differences in the legislation. Following an agreement on final bill language during the conference committee, the newly-agreed upon legislation goes back to each chamber for passage. His comments are an attempt to allay GOP fears that while the Speaker may not take up the Senate legislation, the House may pass a smaller package of bills that is later combined with provisions in the Senate bill and is then forced back upon them for a vote anyway.
Nonetheless, Democrats are increasing the pressure on Speaker Boehner to violate the Hastert rule on immigration, something he has done on other issues in the past. “Mr. Boehner, you are on the clock,” declared long-time amnesty advocate Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) (The Hill, Jun. 28, 2013) A Democratic aide speculated that Boehner has to say he will not break the Hastert rule “up until the moment he does it.” (CQ Today, Jun. 27, 2013)