Pelosi And Hoyer
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md. Reuters

House Democrats mounted a challenge to the Republican leadership on Thursday: If Speaker John Boehner meant it when he said he’ll let the chamber work its will, then let’s see it in action.

That was the call from the House Democratic Whip, Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who respectfully dared Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., to put the comprehensive immigration reform bill on the floor to see who’s right about a majority support existing in the lower chamber for the overhaul.

The two engaged in a conversation on the issue on the House floor a day after Democrats filed a discharge petition to force a vote on the immigration reform legislation. The petition will need buy-in from 218 lawmakers -- a long shot for Democrats -- to successfully force a floor vote.

Cantor said members of his caucus know the present immigration system is broken but that the “serious deterioration in the trust factor” with the White House to enforce the laws as they are on the books is what’s preventing them from making the leap. He cited the Affordable Care Act as an example of the Obama administration changing policies regarding deadlines on a “whim.”

"That's not a good way to operate,” Cantor said. “There’s no interest in picking up a comprehensive bill like that if we can’t trust that once the law is set the White House is going to implement the law as it stands.”

Hoyer countered that the problem isn’t a matter of trust, but whether the lower chamber is capable of acting.

“What we can control is what we do,” Hoyer said, adding that lawmakers can pass policy they believe is good. “I believe it’s not passing because it is not put to the floor.”

“You may well be right [about a majority support not being there],” the Maryland Democrat later added. “Let the American people see that.”

The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill last June, one similar to that being pushed by House Democrats. However, disagreements between Republicans and Democrats on how to make the restructuring occur -- even though both agree it is necessary -- are where things are at a standstill.

Even though the immigration legislation has been dead in the House for months now, Democrats see merit in keeping the issue in the news while on the campaign trail heading into the midterm elections. Still, they have said the issue transcends politics.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reiterated those claims on Thursday while speaking to U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Vice President Joe Biden reminded the chamber of the economic benefit in bringing people out of the shadows.