House Speaker John Boehner said he is "nudging" former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to run for president and he wants to take up immigration reform legislation in small pieces, starting first with border security.
Boehner made the remarks at the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce during a question-and-answer session with the editor of Texas Tribune.
Boehner, when asked whether the House would take up immigration reform this year, said it would depend on whether he can "bring my members along," and he acknowledged that one group of GOP lawmakers has no interest in taking up the issue during an election year.
"There are some members of my party that just do not want to deal with this," Boehner said. "It’s no secret. But I do believe the vast majority of members of our party do want to deal with this, and they want to deal with this honestly, openly and fairly."
Boehner said if the House is able to move on immigration reform, he won’t take up the Senate bill or mimic the massive comprehensive measure passed by that chamber.
Instead, he wants to take up between four and six different “bite-sized” bills, starting with a border security measure, and debate them over a period of weeks or months.
“When you break them down into smaller chunks,” Boehner said, “you end up with less opposition.”
Boehner, when asked whether he would move a bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for those who are here illegally, said he would look to the people who have achieved citizenship legitimately, by waiting in line for years and going through the process legally.
“They are the people that I will look to,” Boehner said. “Because whatever it is we agree on has to pass the straight-faced test,” Boehner said. “How do the people who did this the hard way, how do they feel about the process?”
Other immigration reform provisions under consideration include an increase in visas for high-skilled and low-skilled workers and the creation of a guest worker program.
Boehner blamed President Obama for the GOP pushback against an immigration reform bill, saying Obama's decision to use executive action to circumvent Congress has broken down the trust between Republicans and the White House.
Boehner pointed to the dozens of changes Obama has made to the health care law for reasons many believe are related to lessening the blow of the new law in the months ahead of the critical midterm election.
“I do think we are getting closer on the policy side, in terms of how to deal with [immigration],” Boehner said. “The problem we’ve got is the president has to demonstrate that we can trust him.”
Boehner said he was “looking forward” to running for House speaker again in January and said he has a “very good” relationship with his colleagues, including the ones who disagree with him.
“I’m running for re-election,” Boehner said. “I expect I will be speaker.”
But he would not guarantee serving out his full term.
“I can’t predict what will happen,” Boehner said, noting that he is 65 years old.
“I’m living on borrowed time,” Boehner joked.
He said it was “way too early” to pick a top GOP presidential candidate. “We’ve got a lot of good candidates out there, and yes, Jeb Bush is my friend, I think he’d make a great president. And I’ve been nudging him for some time.”