UPDATE: House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday he doesn't "intend" to push an immigration bill that violates Republican Party "principles."
UPDATE II: Three Republican House members leading the effort appeared on "The Glenn Beck Program" Thursday night to explain their opposition to the immigration bill.
Seventy House Republicans are planning a politically risky showdown with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to try to force additional debate on an immigration bill they say will mean amnesty for illegal immigrants and have dire consequences for the country.
The 70 members are petitioning for a special Republican conference meeting on the bill, a "highly unusual" move to go head-to-head with the speaker, according to Reps. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Steve King (Iowa) and Louie Gohmert (Texas), who are serving as spokespersons for the group.
Bachmann, King and Gohmert told TheBlaze the group is invoking the Hastert Rule: requiring support from a majority of the majority to bring a bill forward.
The petition is expected to go to the House leadership on Friday, but it's possible some signatories might remove their names due to political risk, or that Boehner could head off the challenge by striking a deal. Going against leadership in such a way could have harsh political consequences for the signatories, including retaliation such as permanently getting passed over for chairmanship positions.
A Boehner spokesman did not comment on the letter.
Boehner is on a tight schedule for getting immigration reform passed in the House, predicting this week that Congress could finalize a bill for President Barack Obama's signature by the end of the year. Any major challenge could ignite pushback from the American public that could force lawmakers to scrap the bill, as happened in the 2007 immigration effort.
The three representatives told TheBlaze that more than half of the Republicans in the House were elected after 2007, and have no concept of how strongly the public opposed the bill.
In an interview with World Net Daily this week, Bachmann predicted that if the immigration bill becomes law, "the whole political system will change."
“This is President Obama’s number one political agenda item because he knows we will never again have a Republican president, ever, if amnesty goes into effect. We will perpetually have a progressive, liberal president, probably a Democrat, and we will probably see the House of Representatives go into Democrat hands and the Senate will stay in Democrat hands," Bachmann said.
She also said that if it passes, the bill will create a permanent progressive class.
“That’s what’s at risk right now. It may sound melodramatic, I don’t mean it that way, but this is that big and that important,” Bachmann said.