Boehner 'Hellbent' on Passing Immigration Reform This Year (Maybe)

Friday, 18 Apr 2014 12:55 PM

By Aaron Stern

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House Speaker John Boehner told supporters at a Las Vegas fundraiser last month that he is "hellbent on getting" immigration reform passed this year, The Wall Street Journal reported. But there are caveats.

The Washington Times reported Friday that a Boehner spokesman said that while the Ohio Republican remains committed to passing a comprehensive immigration bill, nothing will happen until President Barack Obama earns the trust of the GOP. 

"Nothing has changed. As he's said many times, the speaker believes step-by-step reform is important, but it won’t happen until the president builds trust and demonstrates a commitment to the rule of law," said Brendan Buck, a Boehner spokesman, according to the Times.

Immigration reform seemed feasible two years ago. Boehner announced the day after Obama was re-elected that immigration would be an issue that he could work with the president on, and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was the linchpin in the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" effort to craft a bill that could pass both houses of Congress. The Senate last year passed such a reform bill, but the House refused to adopt it.

Rubio reversed course under pressure from conservatives, withdrawing his own support of the cause he once championed, saying that a piecemeal approach would be more productive, according to ABC News.

Little headway has been made since. There are efforts in the House to draft new legislation, but a review of deportation policy by the Department of Homeland Security, at Obama's direction, could affect those prospects, The Washington Post reported.

That review has prompted speculation that Obama will sign an executive order to halt deportation of undocumented immigrants, but Fox News Latino reported Tuesday the president told Hispanic leaders in a private meeting he would not do so.

Obama continues to lobby for reform, blasting House members in a statement Wednesday while simultaneously urging them to adopt the Senate's bill, saying it would be a boon to the economy and would help reduce the national deficit.

"Unfortunately, Republicans in the House of Representatives have repeatedly failed to take action, seemingly preferring the status quo of a broken immigration system over meaningful reform," Obama said. "Instead of advancing common sense reform and working to fix our immigration system, House Republicans have voted in favor of extreme measures like a punitive amendment to strip protections from 'Dreamers,'" Obama said in the statement, according to MSNBC

That, in turn, sparked an angry statement from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

"After five years, President Obama still has not learned how to effectively work with Congress to get things done," Cantor said in the statement, according to Politico. "You do not attack the very people you hope to engage in a serious dialogue."

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