Earlier this month I speculated that the “defund Obamacare” furor might inadvertently help boost the slim prospects for enactment of immigration reform legislation by diverting grassroots conservative activist attentions from the specter of “amnesty” to the delicious opportunity to screw up the federal government while denying health insurance to tens of millions of deadbeat Americans.

But now it appears the acceleration of a debt limit breach and its close conjunction with the appropriations expiration that occurs at the end of the fiscal year is convincing House GOP leaders that they just don’t have time to deal with immigration reform this year. This smoke signal appeared in report from Politico‘s Sherman and Brown earlier this week:

Fall’s fiscal fights have lined up in a way that could delay immigration reform until 2014, multiple senior House Republican leadership aides tell POLITICO, imperiling the effort’s prospects before the midterm elections.

The mid-October debt ceiling deadline — an earlier-than-expected target laid out Monday by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew — is changing the House GOP leadership’s plans to pass immigration bills that month.

“If we have to deal with the debt limit earlier, it doesn’t change the overall dynamics of the debate, but — just in terms of timing — it might make it harder to find time for immigration bills in October,” one House Republican leadership aide said.

Ah yes. Our hard-working Congress, just overwhelmed with its responsibilities and desperately needing an off-election-year adjournment to recharge the batteries insufficiently boosted by the month-long August Recess, just won’t have the time or energy to walk and chew gum. It’s reasonably obvious that the last thing Boehner and company want during a period of time when they will be struggling to extricate themselves from the trap they’ve entered by promising an apocalyptic fiscal collision is final action on another big messy issue that divides the GOP. But it’s easier to blame it on Jack Lew and his inconvenient deadline for dealing with the debt limit.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.