----- — The political drive for immigration legislation among Republicans stems from the party's abysmal showing in recent elections among Hispanic voters.
Yet many conservative House members are from congressional districts with relatively few Hispanic residents, and they have more to fear politically from a challenge from the right. Additionally, current polls suggest Republicans are well-positioned to retain control of the House and perhaps gain a Senate majority as well, so some strategists see even less reason for compromise on the issue than before.
As the House Republicans gathered, a prominent opponent of the Senate bill, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala, circulated a detailed point-by-point rebuttal to the proposal that Boehner and the leadership have prepared.
Congress "must end lawlessness, not surrender to it," he said.
Boehner is moving carefully after failing a year ago to persuade the Republican rank and file to support an overhaul.
"It's time to deal with it, but how you deal with it is critically important," he said at a news conference Thursday.
It's one thing to pass a law, it's another thing to have the confidence of the American people behind the law, he said.
Fleming said Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the party's vice presidential nominee in 2012, and California Rep. Jeff Denham spoke in favor of acting this year, but a number of Republicans questioned the timing, and several had serious reservations about the principles.
Numerous Republicans told reporters they wanted the party to be seen as offering alternatives to Obama this year rather than simply opposing him.
Aside from the immigration question, several said they favor drafting health care legislation for floor debate. Republicans campaigned as vigorous opponents of "Obamacare" when they won power in 2010, vowing to "repeal and replace" the law.
Three years later, they have voted more than 40 times to repeal or eviscerate the law, and they triggered a partial government shutdown last year in a failed attempt to defund it. But they have yet to produce an alternative, and some strategists argue the law is so unpopular that it would be a mistake to do so.