House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, confirmed Tuesday that he would not bring an immigration bill to the floor that is not supported by most of his Republican majority.
Boehner indicated that he still supports a comprehensive immigration reform package that includes a path to citizenship for the millions of current illegal immigrants, a key component of legislation currently under consideration in the Senate. But Boehner criticized the bill's border security provisions as insufficient, while charging that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was jamming Republicans to create an issue for Democrats in the 2014 mid-term elections.
The Washington Examiner reported Monday that Boehner had previously signaled to House Republicans that he would not advance an immigration bill that lacked the support of a majority of House Republicans. During a weekly closed-door meeting of the Republican conference Tuesday and at an ensuing news conference, the speaker made that point explicitly clear. Following are Boehner's remarks on the subject:
"Listen, I think this immigration issue's been kicked around this town now for 15 years. That's why I said the day after the election it was time for Congress to do its work.
"I'm increasingly concerned that the White House and Senate Democrats ... would rather have this as an issue in the 2014 election, rather than to resolve it. It was the president who said that he wanted a robust vote coming out of the Senate to help move this process along. And yet here's the president and Senate Democrats working to limit the number of Republican votes that this immigration bill is likely to get. I think that's unfortunate.
"On the House side, I've made clear to our members that we're going to have a discussion about this on July 10. We're going to have a special conference and we're going to lay all of this out and listen to what the members have to say.
"I also suggested to our members today that any immigration reform bill that is going to go into law ought to have a majority of both parties' support if we're really serious about making that happen. And so I don't see any way of bringing an immigration bill to the floor that doesn't have a majority support of Republicans. But I just think the White House and Senate Democrats ought to get very serious.
"We know that border security is absolutely essential if we're going to give people confidence that we can do the rest of what's being suggested. And I frankly think the Senate bill is weak on border security. I think the internal enforcement mechanisms are weak, and the triggers are almost laughable. And so if they're serious about getting an immigration bill finished, I think the president and Senate Democrats ought to reach out to their ... Republican colleagues to build broad bipartisan support for the bill."