House Speaker John Boehner insisted Thursday that a vote on immigration reform in the next month was still alive, despite a top-ranking deputy declaring the issue for the rest of the year had flat-lined.
"Is immigration reform dead? Absolutely not," Boehner said.
At his weekly press conference Thursday, Boehner said he was "hopeful" the House can make progress on the issue.
The Ohio Republican seemed to override remarks made by Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, the third-ranking House Republican, who recently told immigration advocates there was not enough time left this year
to deal with the issue.
Boehner said House Republicans are still having private conversations about how to move forward. He said rather than voting on one sweeping bill like the one passed in the Senate in June, it would likely be smaller individual bills.
But he would not pinpoint when the House would vote on immigration reform legislation.
Boehner went so far as to praise President Obama for reiterating that he's open to passing an immigration overhaul in pieces as long as every element of reform is included.
"I was encouraged that the president said he wouldn't stand in the way of a step-by-step immigration reform," Boehner said. "The only way to make sure immigration reform works this time is to address these complicated issues one step at a time."
Immigration advocates and Democrats have lashed out at Boehner for stalling on a House vote for months.
Boehner also drew fire for saying recently that he would not negotiate on the Senate's comprehensive immigration overhaul that would provide a path to citizenship for the country's 11 million illegal immigrants.
Demonstrators have picketed Boehner at his office and at home, demanding that he hold a vote on immigration legislation. He has also been under pressure from members of his own party, who consider immigration reform a key step in winning back Latino and Asian voters.
House Democrats were unconvinced by Boehner’s latest vow.
Texas Rep. Joaquín Castro was skeptical. "Begin the process now. I have said to these Republicans, if you believe that you can pass a series of piecemeal bills that gets us to a comprehensive solution, let's do it."
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