House Speaker John Boehner recently told a group of donors that he was anxious to get an immigration reform bill passed this year. Speaking at a Las Vegas fundraiser, the Republican from Ohio said he was “hell-bent on getting this done this year.”
Many Republicans in the House have been reluctant to tackle the sensitive issue before the the midterm elections in November, according to Fox News. The original story on the comment broke in the Wall Street Journal Friday, and Boehner’s office immediately began to try and quell speculation that Republicans were going to move on the issue this year.
Boehner has said many times in the past that Republican distrust of President Barack Obama has made passing meaningful immigration legislation impossible.
“Every time the president ignores the law, like the 38 times he has on Obamacare, our members look up and go, 'Wait a minute: You can't have immigration reform without strong border security and internal enforcement,'” he said in a story from The Hill.. "'How can we trust the president to actually obey the law and enforce the law that we would write?'"
Nothing has changed, according to Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck.
“As he's said many times, the speaker believes step-by-step reform is important, but it won't happen until the president builds trust and demonstrates a commitment to the rule of law,” Buck said after the story broke Friday.
The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill last year, but it has not made it out of committee in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
In December, immigration reform proponent Rebecca Tallent joined Boehner’s office. That addition upset many conservatives, who took it as a sign that the speaker might be growing soft on the hardline message concerning reform. Many Republicans still favor tight border security and stronger enforcement rather than “path to citizenship” types of legislation — something many consider tantamount to amnesty.
Others remain suspicious of Boehner for other reasons. They think his recent comments may be a ploy to gain support for Republicans in the upcoming midterms.
"Boehner's blowing wind up someone's skirt, either that of the voters or the donors,” Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies wrote in a recent email. “The fact that his spokesman didn't dispute the 'hellbent' comment (despite all the 'chill out,' 'nothing's changed' stuff) suggests to me it's the voters Boehner's trying to fool.”