Player of the week: The House GOP conference

House Republicans will huddle on Wednesday to discuss immigration reform. The closed-door meeting is important for a variety of reasons. 

Before the July 4 recess, the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration bill, 68-32. But most House GOP lawmakers oppose the measure, most notably its provisions on providing a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

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Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), however, is well aware that the ball is in the House’s court. The lower chamber is expected to pass narrow immigration reform bills in an effort to enter into conference with the Senate.

That might not be as easy as it sounds. 

Democrats in the House have criticized the House GOP’s plan on immigration. 

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus calls it “a partisan piecemeal strategy that provides no solutions for our broken immigration system.”

If Democratic leaders whip against the immigration bills, House Republicans will have to pass them on their own.

The July-through-October stretch is critical for House Republicans, who have struggled to pass controversial legislation, including the farm bill and an ObamaCare fix measure.

With huge fiscal fights looming in the fall, Republicans are going to have to coalesce or face more humiliating defeats to President Obama.

Wednesday’s meeting is about immigration, but it is more than that. Boehner, whose easygoing leadership style has been criticized throughout his Speakership, must find a way to minimize defections on big-ticket items.

In a nod to his House GOP lawmakers, Boehner said he would abide by the so-called Hastert Rule on immigration. 

Will the majority-of-the-majority rule also apply to keeping the government running past the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30? Will the rule apply to the debt-limit showdown? 

There are many questions heading into Wednesday’s meeting, and Republicans need to find answers very soon.