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Behind the scenes, supporters of the Gang of Eight’s legislation are lobbying him to bring the Senate’s bill to the floor, but he keeps rebuffing their pleas. It’s not that he’s against immigration reform — he’s broadly supportive. But he refuses to break from “regular order,” the routine that has guided him throughout this debate. That means slowly filtering a bill through the committees, and then spending time on amendments.

“House Republicans aren’t going to be bullied,” says Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, an informal adviser to the speaker. “John’s going to do this his way, and we’ve known that for a while.” During closed-door conference meetings, Boehner has reassured his colleagues that they shouldn’t read much into the reports about his supposed waffling, and he has dismissed the idea that House Republicans are compelled to be swept up by the Senate’s fanfare. “It just won’t happen,” says Representative Peter Roskam of Illinois, Boehner’s chief deputy whip. “It’s a pipe dream to think that bill is going to the floor.”

Instead, Boehner will toss immigration reform back to Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte, who is already working through a handful of bills. “Boehner’s preference is for the committees to lead, since that creates a bottom-up policy,” says Hal Rogers of Kentucky, the Appropriations Committee chairman. “That’s smart politics. We don’t have earmarks anymore, so the speaker is limited in what he can do to win votes. Working through the chairmen is a good way to find leverage in a job with few options.”

National Review Online |