Dem: Boehner's pledge 'anti-democratic'

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Speaker John Boehner’s pledge to only an consider immigration bill if it has a majority of Republican support is "anti-democratic" and could doom the effort altogether, a leading House Democrat said Friday.

“That’s anti-Democratic and I’m afraid it could doom the prospects for immigration reform,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown. “No one is giving up yet, I still think there’s great hope, but that was not a promising statement.”

Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday said he wouldn’t consider any immigration legislation unless it conformed to the unwritten “Hastert rule,” which holds that no bill should come to the House floor unless it has the backing of more than half of the majority party.

Van Hollen said the invocation of the Hastert rule was particularly galling for supporters of immigration reform, since the bipartisan bill passed by the Senate could pass the House with broad Democratic support.

“[Boehner] isn’t going to take up the bipartisan Senate bill. If he did, we could pass it today,” Van Hollen said. “I think we’ve got at least 200 Democratic votes in the House, I think we’d get at least 18 Republican votes in the House. We could get this important legislation done today. He said he won’t do that.”

There are currently 201 Democrats serving in the House.

Conservatives have pressured Boehner to adhere to the Hastert rule on immigration reform, with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) saying that if Boehner crossed his conference on the issue, it would trigger a revolt that would cost him his Speakership.

Van Hollen said Boehner’s commitment to the Hastert rule for immigration reform posed a potentially insurmountable obstacle for immigration reform in the House.

“Right now, I don’t see how that configuration passes because a majority of Republicans in the House are against any sort of path toward legalization and eventual citizenship,” he said.

Still, Van Hollen put the prospects for immigration reform passing the House at 50-50.

“I still think it’s 50-50,” he said. “But a couple months ago I think the momentum was clearly in favor of it. I would’ve said we had a 65 or 70 percent chance of getting it done.”