One step forward, and that's probably it

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That said, things look awfully different and difficult in the GOP-controlled House. Proponents of reform, like House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), have done enough talking and listening with their conservative colleagues to know the Senate bill just won't fly. And bringing a conference report to the floor that largely reflects the main provisions of the Senate legislation is a nonstarter, to say the least.

Boehner held a press conference after Senate passage to reiterate his intention to bring a bill to the floor only that is supported by a "majority of the majority," something he had said weeks before but that worried conservatives who noted he had refused to apply the same mandate to a conference report when asked specifically by a reporter.

Conventional wisdom holds that opposition to reform is based solely upon the need to secure the border first and to provide legal citizenship later. But legalization itself — forgiveness for law breaking — is still a primary complaint of the conservative groups congressional Republicans hear from the most. 

House Republicans say they can't pass a path to citizenship. So the piecemeal approach favored by most of the House GOP conference means the House will pass immigration reform, but a law seems unlikely.

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