On Sunday I talked and emailed with four sources intimately involved in the immigration matter, and the picture that emerges is yes, some Republicans have discussed delaying action on immigration until after the threat of primary challenges passes. But no, it does not appear that the GOP leadership is planning to do it or is even pushing the idea — and besides, there is no guarantee at all that Republicans will agree to do anything on immigration, anyway.
First, from the top. “There are a lot of members who think primary dates should be a factor,” says one leadership aide. “The Speaker is not one of them.” Another leadership aide stresses that “absolutely no” decisions have been made and “I’ve not heard one word about primary calendars and filing deadlines. That [Wall Street Journal] passage is people projecting their desires.”
Yet another aide concedes that the issue has been discussed among the membership, but there’s an obvious problem: it’s such an obvious maneuver. “If you do it before the primaries, a lot of the members are going to be skittish about doing it before the primaries,” the aide says. “They’re not going to take the vote. But when you start to say that, then it looks political. So all of these members who are facing primaries are going to be asked, ‘What are you going to do?'” The aide notes that if GOP voters believe lawmakers are even thinking about taking action on immigration, they will demand that their representative make some sort of binding pledge, as when many GOP members found themselves under pressure to promise not to vote to raise the debt ceiling. That would be counter-productive for those Republican members who want to pass one or more immigration bills.