Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told House Republicans on Wednesday morning that the GOP leadership would soon release an outline of the conference’s position on immigration reform, signaling his intent to address an issue that has often caused controversy within his party.
Several House Republicans told The Washington Post that Boehner did not specify the details of the framework, and said Boehner’s comments were brief. He also did not discuss a specific timeline for its release.
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), speaking with reporters, described the announcement as part of Boehner’s wide-ranging announcement of his 2014 agenda.
“John said that he’s going to come out with principles [on immigration],” King said. “He didn’t say when, but I got the impression that it’d be sooner rather than later.”
Leadership aides say the document will focus on “step by step” reforms and border security. House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and other Republicans who have been deeply involved in immigration policy for the past year are said to be the chief authors.
“There was no talk, at all, about going to conference with the Senate’s comprehensive bill,” said one House leadership aide. “The speaker and the conference are focused on commonsense reforms and that will be laid out in the principles.”
Boehner alerted members about his plans at a closed-door GOP conference meeting at the Capitol. His remarks on immigration came at the beginning of the session, which was the first large gathering of House Republicans since members returned from the winter recess.
Leaving the meeting, most House conservatives, who have at times been at odds with Boehner and the leadership, did not seem worried about the House GOP’s plan to publish a position paper on immigration reform. As they listened to Boehner, they said, they did not get the sense that the speaker would surprise them and break from his long-held position.
“Yes,” said conservative Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), when asked whether he and the speaker are in sync on how to move forward. “We want to focus on securing our border and strengthening our visa program. That’s our first priority.”