The Washington Post

Boehner: ‘Difficult’ to move on immigration reform in 2014

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) laments the resistance to immigration reform but emphasizes the need for officials to work together. (The Washington Post)

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who has indicated that he is hoping to pursue immigration reform this year, sought to temper expectations for that prospect Thursday by saying that congressional Republicans' distrust of President Obama may keep the legislation from passing in 2014.

"I never underestimated the difficulty in moving forward this year," Boehner said. He added later: "There's widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws. And it's going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes."

The comments seemed a departure from Boehner's recent public comments on immigration, in which he had appeared to be pushing for a deal sometime this year.

His remarks came just two days after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he thought it would be impossible for the House and Senate to strike a deal that could pass both chambers in 2014. Other Republicans have argued that if Boehner aggressively pursues immigration reform in 2014, it could spell doom for House Republicans who face contentious races in this year's midterms.

The speaker stressed the need for immigration reform, which has been seen as a crucial step as the GOP attempts to strengthen support among Hispanic voters in advance of the 2016 election. But he said a comprehensive reform bill will be "difficult" move through the House and the Senate this year.

"This is an important issue in our country, it's been kicked around forever, and it needs to be dealt with," he said.

But "the American people, including many of my members, don't trust that the reform that we're talking about will be implemented as it was intended to be," he said. "Listen, there's widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws. And it's going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes."

The speaker also addressed the ongoing debt-ceiling negotiations. He did not rule out the possibility to passing a clean bill but said House Republicans are still considering what, if any, concessions to request from the president in exchange for increasing the nation's borrowing limit.

"We're still looking for the pieces to this puzzle," Boehner said. "We do not want to default on our debt, and we will not default on our debt."

Asked about the reported inability to get House Republicans to buy into plans to demand that the president approve the Keystone XL pipeline project as part of a debt-ceiling deal, Boehner joked:

"Mother Teresa is a saint now, but you know, if the Congress wanted to make her a saint and attach that to the debt ceiling, we probably couldn't get 218 Republican votes."

Boehner's joke about Mother Teresa is not the first acknowledgement by Republicans about the difficulty of lining up their conference behind a debt deal.

On Wednesday, longtime Boehner ally Rep. Patrick J. Tiberi (R-Ohio) said: "Right now, Jesus himself couldn't be the speaker and get 218 Republicans behind something."



Wesley Lowery is a national reporter covering law enforcement and justice for the Washington Post. He previously covered Congress and national politics.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The New Hampshire primary is Tuesday. Get caught up on the race.
New Hampshire primary: What to expect
New Hampshire will hold a traditional primary just eight days after the Iowa caucuses. Polling in the Granite state has historically been volatile in the final weeks before the primary. After the Iowa caucuses, many New Hampshire voters cement their opinions.
The Post's Ed O'Keefe says ...
Something has clicked for Bush in New Hampshire in the past few days. What has transpired by no means guarantees him a top-tier finish in Tuesday’s Republican primary here, but the crowds turning out to see him are bigger, his delivery on the stump is crisper and some of his key rivals have stumbled. At the least, the developments have mostly silenced talk of a hasty exit and skittish donors.
The feminist appeal may not be working for Clinton
In New Hampshire, Sen. Bernie Sanders is beating Clinton among women by eight percentage points, according to a new CNN-WMUR survey. This represents a big shift from the results last week in the Iowa caucuses, where Clinton won women by 11 points.
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She left the state Sunday to go to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 40%
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.