Boehner ‘mocked’ colleagues on immigration

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) "theatrically mocked" his Republican colleagues Thursday for being too afraid to take on the issue of immigration, according to an Ohio newspaper.

Boehner spoke Thursday at a meeting of the Middletown Rotary Club in his home district in southwestern Ohio. During the discussion, he mocked his colleagues for their unwillingness to take on the issue, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

"Here's the attitude. Ohhhh. Don't make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard," Boehner said during the meeting, which was held at a country club in Madison Township, Ohio, according to the Enquirer.

"We get elected to make choices," he added. "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."

Boehner reminded the crowd that he's been working for more than a year to convince colleagues to work on immigration reform: "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, according to the paper.

While the tone of his public remarks may seem out-of-character for the usually straight-talking lawmaker, the thrust of Boehner's comments don't differ from what he's said before: That Congress and President Obama need to work together to revamp immigration laws.

In response to reports of Boehner's remarks, his spokesman, Brendan Buck, said Thursday afternoon: "As the speaker often says to his colleagues, 'You only tease the ones you love.'"

His aides pushed back aggressively last week against suggestions that the House was on the verge of taking up the issue. Responding to inquiries from several reporters about immigration, one of Boehner's spokesmen told reporters in an e-mail, "Everyone can tell their editors to chill. The House’s focus remains on jobs and the economy."

The spokesman added: "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."

In response to Boehner's comments, the office of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urged the speaker Thursday to “put your money where your mouth is” and allow a vote on a bipartisan immigration reform bill authored by House lawmakers.

“We are confident it will pass,” her office said.

This post has been updated.

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.

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