House Speaker John Boehner, speaking to a Rotary Club luncheon in his home district in Ohio, poked fun at his fellow Republicans for their fear of reforming immigration laws.
"Here's the attitude. 'Ohhhh. Don't make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard,'" Boehner said mockingly at Thursday's lunch meeting in Madison Township, reports The Cincinnati Enquirer.
But Boehner went on to say that he's been working for 16 to 17 months pushing Congress to deal with the issue, and it still remains at a standstill.
"We get elected to make choices," complained Boehner. "We get elected to solve problems and it's remarkable to me how many of my colleagues just don't want to ... They'll take the path of least resistance."
But, he told the club, "I've had every brick and bat and arrow shot at me over this issue just because I wanted to deal with it. I didn't say it was going to be easy," he said.
Earlier this year, Boehner maintained that House Republicans supported immigration reform guidelines
he proposed at a GOP retreat. But a Roll Call survey
of every GOP House member revealed that only 19 representatives were willing to go on record backing it.
Boehner's proposals include a pathway to legalization for illegal immigrants and a pathway to citizenship for children brought here illegally. But the plan falls short of providing an immediate pathway to citizenship as outlined in the comprehensive Senate bill passed last year.
Boehner was in Ohio to campaign in his home district before the May 6 primary. He is facing three challengers, and tea party supporters are not backing his re-election.
Instead, the Tea Party Leadership Fund Political Action Committee is backing J.D. Winteregg, a 32-year-old high school French teacher from Troy, Ohio, as its candidate, reports The Enquirer
. Two business owners from Boehner's home district, Eric Gurr and Matthew Ashworth also are on the primary ballot.
Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck told The Washington Post
Thursday that Boehner's frank comments on immigration reform come as no real surprise.
"As the speaker often says to his colleagues, 'You only tease the ones you love,'" Buck said.
Last week, Boehner's aides rejected suggestions that the House was about to take up immigration reform, saying the focus remains on the economy. And on Thursday, Buck said nothing has changed where immigration reform is concerned.
"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 Buck.
Meanwhile, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's office urged Boehner Thursday to "put your money where your mouth is" and allow a vote on a bipartisan immigration reform bill.
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