Pressure from conservative lawmakers has apparently caused House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to reverse course on immigration.
Just last week, Boehner said he expected to have an immigration bill this year, causing conservative House members to worry it would include a provision granting amnesty to illegal aliens.
As WND reported, the speaker also bragged about his ability to get bills passed in the House without the support of most fellow Republicans.
"I’ve allowed the House to work … 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 favor, and a minority of Republicans," Boehner said.
Now, he appears to have changed his tune, saying today ,"I don't see any way of bringing an immigration bill to the floor that doesn't have majority support of Republicans."
Several sources say Boehner's language was actually much more emphatic and colorful, quoting the speaker as saying, "No way in hell" would he try to pass an immigration bill without a support of most Republicans.
Before today, Boehner had refused to say whether he would allow a vote on an immigration bill that would rely on Democrats to get around the GOP majority in the House.
Boehner's about face appears to be the result of pressure applied by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and her conservative colleagues.
In an exclusive interview with WND last week, Bachmann expressed skepticism about the intentions of leaders in both parties.
“I think the master plan of the ruling class that runs Washington, D.C., is to ram this bill through before the American people know what has hit them and before members of Congress even know what has hit them,” she said.
Bachmann and other conservative lawmakers pressed fellow Republican Boehner to pledge to abide by the “Hastert rule.”
The rule requires a majority of House party members to support legislation before it is allowed to make it to the floor.
Boehner's statement today would seem to indicate he will now honor the Hastert rule with respect to an immigration bill in the House.
But, in a sign that will concern conservative lawmakers, Boehner would not confirm whether he will apply the Hastert rule to any House-Senate compromise bill put together in a conference committee.
"We’ll see when we get there," he said.
Bachmann explained to WND last week what could happen if the Hastert rule is not observed on any immigration bill coming out of a conference committee.
She said that could be the way an immigration bill approving amnesty could make it through the Republican-controlled House without the approval of most GOP lawmakers.
Baachmann described the process, explaining the House will likely approve a bill blocking amnesty, but it would then go to a conference committee to reconcile it with a Senate bill allowing amnesty.
“The good guts of the Trojan horse bill will be pulled out,” she said. “The very bad amnesty provisions will be put in the bill. The bill will go to the House floor, and it won’t be Republicans that pass it.
“It’ll be Nancy Pelosi leading all the House Democrats to vote for it, and just enough Republicans will vote for the bill, and you’ll have amnesty,” predicted Bachmann.
Her concern is sparked by the number of times Boehner has relied on Democrats to pass legislation.
Bohener bristled today at the suggestion he intended to do the same thing with immigration, telling a source, "[T]he biggest non-story 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," he said. "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," he explained.
One Republican House member told WND Radio that Boehner should lose his job if he breaks the Hastert rule on an immigration bill.
"If Speaker Boehner moves forward and permits this to come to a vote even though the majority of the Republicans in the House -- and that’s if they do -- oppose whatever it is that’s coming to a vote, he should be removed as speaker,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.