House Speaker John Boehner made headlines last week when he mocked his colleagues for not wanting to take a difficult vote on immigration reform. With Congress back in session this week, he had a chance to put that genie back in the bottle, as one Republican put it.
He turned to a familiar foil: President Obama
“I wanted to make sure the members understood the biggest impediment we have in moving immigration reform is that the American people don’t trust the president to enforce or implement the law that we may or may not pass,” Boehner said Tuesday after meeting with House Republicans.
Louisiana Rep. John Fleming said the speaker told Republicans the same thing in their meeting.
“He actually doubled down today on our existing position, which is not to move forward until the president gets right with this,” Fleming said.
Fleming added that Boehner told the conference he would not consider the comprehensive Senate-passed immigration bill, a position long held by Boehner. He had previously left the door open to a piecemeal approach, but then shut that down earlier this year when he said his conference couldn’t “trust” the president.
His comments in Ohio seemed to indicate that at least a piecemeal approach could be back on the table. But the developments Tuesday don’t bode well for the prospect of anything getting done on immigration before the midterm elections.
There are a few House Republicans, like Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, who continue to push for a vote, as are many Democrats. And 250 evangelical pastors made the rounds on Capitol Hill Tuesday calling for a vote as well.
“Are we going to move forward with trying to fix it, or are we going to pretend, because it is a difficult issue, that we don’t have to do anything about it? And I think most people want to fix it.” Diaz-Balart said.
It isn’t clear exactly what President Obama can do to gain the trust of House Republicans. Asked by the NewsHour if immigration reform might be more likely with a different person in the Oval Office, Fleming replied, “Yes.”