By Bob Cusack - 07/24/13 10:00 AM EDT
"I went to [Rep.] Lou Barletta [R-Pa.] and said, 'Lou, we've got to go to work.' A few days later, there were three of us. Now, there are dozens, scores of us and we're meeting on a weekly basis."
King, who opted against a Senate bid this cycle, indicated he is somewhat pleased that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has committed to applying the "Hastert Rule" to immigration. That rule, instituted by former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), stipulates that bills can't come to the House floor unless they attract a majority of Republican support.
"I heard what [Boehner] said and I take him at his word," King said. "I remain uneasy because a lot of things can happen around in this town."
King is a kingmaker in the critical presidential state of Iowa. Asked if he believes Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has hurt his standing with conservatives in the state because of his authorship of the Senate immigration bill, King said, "I personally like Rubio."
He noted he communicates regularly with him, while adding, "People know where I stand and where he stands."
King has introduced legislation that would make English the official language of the United States. But the Iowa Republican is not pushing for it to pass now.
He doesn't want the GOP-controlled House to pass any immigration bill for fear that an "amnesty" bill will fall in "our lap" after a House-Senate conference.
King is also concerned with House GOP efforts to craft a Republican version of the DREAM Act. The Democratic DREAM Act would allow children of illegal immigrants to become citizens.
The 64-year-old lawmaker says sympathy shouldn't override the law: "They're not all valedictorians. Some of them smuggle drugs into this country."