House Speaker John Boehner told Republicans he went too far in saying in Ohio April 24 that some of his colleagues didn’t want to advance a revision of U.S. immigration law because it was too hard.
“Our members know me, alright?” Boehner told reporters after a closed-door meeting with House Republicans today. “But you know, sometimes I can rib people just a little too much sometimes. Wouldn’t be the first time.”
The remarks came days after Boehner told an Ohio Rotary Club it was “remarkable” how many of his colleagues didn’t want to advance immigration legislation because it was too hard.
“Here’s the attitude: Ohhh, don’t make me do this. Ohhh, this is too hard,” Boehner said, his face scrunched up for effect.
Boehner said today his comments were “misunderstood.”
“Some people misunderstood what I had to say, and I wanted to make sure that members understood that the biggest impediment we have to immigration reform is that the American people don’t trust the president to enforce or implement the law that we may or may not pass,” he said.
Boehner brought up the earlier remarks at the meeting with Republicans at the Republican National Committee building near the Capitol, according to several members present.
“He said it didn’t come off like he intended it,” Florida Republican Ted Yoho said. Asked how it was intended, Yoho deferred to Boehner and said “you’d have to ask him.”
Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz told reporters that Boehner told fellow party members he “went a little too far” with his comments in Ohio. The speaker “tried to put the genie back in the bottle” by blaming Obama, not fellow House Republicans, for inaction on immigration, Chaffetz told reporters.
Several House Republicans have rejected advancing an immigration measure that contains any provisions that could be construed as amnesty for undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
Democrats say a Senate-passed immigration bill, S. 744, that includes increased border security and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants would pass -- with Democratic votes -- if House leaders would put it up for a vote.
House leaders have rejected that approach and instead have said if they move legislation it will be in a piecemeal way, starting with increased border security. Democrats haven’t been able to force a vote on a similar measure, H.R. 15.
Republicans released an outline of principles in January that would guide future immigration legislation. Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s outline of planned legislative action through May, released last week, didn’t include immigration legislation.
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