Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) told Post Politics’ Ed O’Keefe in a newly released interview that the House has more than enough GOP votes -- around 40 or 50 -- to pass comprehensive immigration reform if it were brought to a vote.
But Gutierrez said Republicans who support the idea are staying deliberately quiet to avoid a backlash from conservative activists.
“Some of them I’ve spoken to, and they say, ‘Love to do the activity with you, I want to be able to vote for it, I really don’t need to draw attention to myself at this point,’ but we can count on it,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez said that Obama asked him in 2009 to find him 40 or 50 Republicans who would sign on to a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
“If they asked me today, go find those 40 or 50 Republicans, I’d tell them I found them,” Gutierrez said. “I know where they’re at. They’re here. They’re present.”
The reason the Senate-passed immigration bill hasn’t come to a vote in the House is because it doesn’t satisfy the so-called Hastert Rule – the practice of not bringing a bill to a vote unless a majority of the majority party’s members support it.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), an ally of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), has even suggested that the Senate bill wouldn’t pass in the House if it was brought to a vote.
If Boehner didn't enforce the Hastert Rule -- something he has sworn he will do -- and all 201 House Democrats backed an immigration bill, the bill would need 17 Republicans to pass.
Gutierrez said he’s got the support of at least 195 House Democrats, which would mean the effort needs 23 Republicans to pass, minus the Hastert Rule.
House Republicans have instead moved forward with a more piecemeal approach to immigration reform, moving a number of bills that deal with border security and other issues.