“There’s this conspiracy theory out there that we’ve given up on legislating and want to take the House,” one senior administration official said. “The fact is that there is going to be aggressive engagement on a whole host of issues.”

House passage of immigration reform would add to Obama’s legacy, giving him an accomplishment that would turn around what has been a lackluster second term so far.

“Given the choice, if we could only have one, he’d rather have immigration reform,” the official said of winning back the House. Many observers, however, are pessimistic immigration reform will move ahead before the 2014 elections, something even Obama allies acknowledge.

“I don’t think it’s looking good legislatively,” one Democratic strategist close to the White House said.