White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett pulled back Friday morning from comments she made suggesting that House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) had made a commitment to President Obama to take up immigration legislation this summer.
Jarrett had told an investors conference in Las Vegas on Thursday that she believes that Boehner will allow a comprehensive immigration reform bill, or a package of bills, to come up for a vote after a series of GOP primaries this summer in order to avoid spoiling the chances of some Republican incumbents. Her comments echo the long-held beliefs of some observers of the immigration reform debate that House GOP leaders are merely biding their time until members of the House Republican Conference are in a better political position.
"We have a commitment from Speaker Boehner, who's very frustrated with his caucus," Jarrett told the crowd, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
By Friday morning, Jarrett was pulling back via Twitter in response to reporting by NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd:
.@chucktodd lost in translation -- I said Boehner has made commitment to trying, not that he has made commitment to us or time frame.
— Valerie Jarrett (@vj44) May 16, 2014
Sure enough, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel refuted Jarrett's comments Friday morning: "Republicans are committed to reforming our immigration system, but as the speaker has said repeatedly, it’s difficult to see how we make progress until the American people have faith that President Obama will enforce the law as written," Steel said in an e-mail.
Boehner reiterated this week what he's been saying for months: That he'd like to take a "bite-sized" legislative approach in the House that would begin by tackling concerns with border security. But he acknowledged that some of his GOP colleagues are reluctant to tackle the issue.
"There are some members of my party that just do not want to deal with this," Boehner said during an appearance in San Antonio. "It’s no secret. But I do believe the vast majority of members of our party do want to deal with this, and they want to deal with this honestly, openly and fairly."