The Times is all excited this morning that John Boehner has hired a staffer who used to be John McCain's top immigration aide. This means, the paper reports, that Boehner is serious about immigration reform and fully prepared to tell the tea party to go stuff it.

Boehner would not try to ram through the Senate bill passed last year, which is still alive this year, i.e., for the remainder of the session of Congress during which it was passed. Rather, says the Times, he'd break it into smaller pieces and see if he could get those through: most notably, a possible path to citizenship for young people who came to the country illegally as children with their parents. Obviously, this is well short of the broader Senate bill provisions, which include a path to citizenship for everyone. 

I still think even these provisions will be too much for the House GOP, but the X factor here, which the Times doesn't get into, is whether this is Boehner's last year as speaker. He's not going to say of course, because as soon as he says it, he loses whatever tenuous power over his people he has.

But if he has decided in his mind that he's not going to run for speaker again, then he may well allow something to pass the House with lots of Democratic votes and just a handful of Republican ones. Under that circumstance, immigration reforms could pass the House, and maybe even some fairly progressive ones, if Boehner ends up being in a position where he needs the Latino caucus more than the tea party caucus.

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