Just days after releasing the House GOP’s draft of principles for immigration reform, House GOP Speaker John Boehner told reporters on February 6 that its chances of passing anytime soon were in mortal peril. Boehner said he and his members “by and large support” the immigration reform framework he and his leadership team had released. But he added, “I’ve never underestimated the difficulty in moving forward this year” and suggested that because of his own party’s complaints about working with the Obama administration, the issue might prove too much to overcome.
President Obama had praised House Republicans for moving forward on immigration this month and has said he’s willing to accept their demands that legislation be broken into a series of smaller parts. But he also hinted that he might consider further executive action, perhaps even expanding an existing White House order deferring deportations for young undocumented immigrants, if Congress fails to act.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that the president was “optimistic about the prospects for comprehensive immigration reform in 2014” despite Boehner’s latest comments. As for whether Obama might resort to executive action to bypass Congress on the issue, Carney downplayed the idea. “There’s no alternative to comprehensive immigration reform passing through Congress,” he said. “It requires legislation.”
Regardless of Boehner’s long-term plan, his remarks reflect real concerns within his caucus that passing immigration reform in 2014 is a bad idea either on the policy merits or the politics.