Boehner: No way to get immigration bill to House floor without GOP majority support
(CNN) -- Under pressure from House conservatives opposed to comprehensive immigration reform, House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday, "I don't see any way of bringing an immigration bill to the floor that doesn't have majority support of Republicans."
Until now, Boehner has sidestepped questions about how he will move forward in the House on immigration reform and whether he would allow a vote on a bill that relied on Democrats to pass the GOP-controlled chamber.
The Senate is considering its version of immigration reform, and Boehner's comment raises new questions about whether any major immigration bill will get through Congress.
Boehner talked to reporters after the weekly GOP conference meeting on Capitol Hill. A source who attended Tuesday morning's closed-door meeting said Boehner assured House members that he has no plan to pass an immigration bill without majority GOP support.
"I'm increasingly convinced the White House has adopted a strategy of ensuring nothing is enacted before the 2014 elections. The president's team once talked of its desire for a big bipartisan vote in the Senate; now they're actively working to limit Republican votes in the Senate," he said, according to the source.
"This town thrives on nonstories. And the biggest nonstory of the week is this speculation that I'm somehow planning secretly to pass an immigration bill without a majority of Republicans.
"The only time any speaker allows a major bill to pass without a majority of the majority is when there is zero leverage. Denny Hastert did it on campaign finance reform and several other bills when he had no leverage and no other option. Nancy Pelosi did it on Iraq war funding and other bills when she had no leverage and no other option. And yes, it has happened to me a couple times, such as the fiscal cliff and hurricane relief, where we had no leverage and we faced a worse alternative, politically or in terms of policy.
"Let me be clear: Immigration is not one of these scenarios. We have plenty of leverage. And I have no intention of putting a bill on the floor that will violate the principles of our majority and divide our conference. One of our principles is border security. I have no intention of putting a bill on the floor that the people in this room do not believe secures our borders. It's not gonna happen."
When asked if Boehner's comments were a sign that immigration reform is essentially dead, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, appealed for unity.
"I hope that's not true," he said. "We were only able to reach an agreement on comprehensive immigration reform because we did it on a bipartisan basis. I hope that Speaker Boehner realizes the only way to success in the House on the same issue is on a bipartisan basis. If he insists on this being a Republicans-authored and (Republican)-inspired program, it has limited chance of success."