John Boehner

Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner

By Ed O’Keefe
Published: June 18, 2013

The fate of the sprawling immigration reform proposal winding its way through Congress may now be in the hands of some of the most conservative members of the Republican Party.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday that he will not advance any bill that did not have the support of a majority of the House GOP, which will mean engaging some of the proposal’s biggest detractors and harshest critics.

“I have no intention of putting a bill on the floor that will violate the principles of our majority and divide our conference,” Boehner told his party colleagues in a closed meeting Tuesday, according to GOP aides present. “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.”

In comments to reporters after the meeting, Boehner added that “I don’t see any way of bringing an immigration bill to the floor that doesn’t have a majority support of Republicans.”

That tricky political calculation is one that Boehner has faced repeatedly in the past two years in trying to pass controversial legislation on issue after issue. The approach has often led to failure, as a solid bloc of conservatives has often emerged to derail whatever compromise Boehner and his leadership team managed to work out. But it also required Boehner at the start of the year to depend on Democratic votes to approve federal assistance to communities ravaged by Hurricane Sandy and to adopt the “fiscal cliff” deal.

Despite his closed-door comments, Boehner didn’t rule out relying on Democrats to pass a final version of immigration legislation that could be negotiated between the House and the Senate in the coming weeks, telling reporters Tuesday: “We’ll see when we get there.”

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