House Republicans Brace for Crazy-Making Intra-Party Immigration Fight
This is not to suggest that reform won’t happen. House Republican leaders are highly motivated to lance this boil. “This is going to be an issue that Democrats use to beat up Republicans until it’s taken off the table,” acknowledges Cole.
And although much has been made of Boehner assuring his conference that he will abide by the so-called Hastert Rule on immigration (meaning that he won’t move a bill that doesn’t have the support of a majority of the majority), Hill veterans note that there are ways around this unofficial mandate.
In some cases, leadership can get a majority of its members to express private support for a bill even when they’re unwilling to vote for it, notes Feehery. (Cole cites the fiscal cliff deal an example.) As for the official vote count, Republican staffers are already allowing for a bit of wiggle room. While passing legislation with more Ds than Rs would be a no-no, passing it with, say, 120 votes from each team would be just fine. Of the Hastert Rule hubbub, the GOP aide says, “It’s kind of a lot of ado about nothing.”
Or as Cole puts it, “The Hastert Rule is a rule except when it’s not.”
Just don’t talk that way in front of the conference’s right wing. They already have issues with the leadership, and some have even launched a crusade to make the Hastert Rule binding. (As if the House needed any more hurdles to getting stuff done.) All of which suggests that Boehner et al. should rest up over the recess and brace for a July 10 “listening session” that will, by comparison, make their last colonoscopy seem like a week in Palm Beach.