WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday it will be difficult to pass immigration legislation this year, dimming prospects for one of President Barack Obama’s top domestic priorities.
“Listen, there’s widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws. And it’s going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes,” Boehner told reporters at his weekly news conference.
While Boehner called on Obama to restore that trust, he made no mention of the rank-and-file Republicans who were unenthusiastic about a set of broad principles circulated by the leadership last week. The principles included legal status but no special path for citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants who live in the country illegally and tougher border and interior security.
A group of conservative Republicans said Wednesday that Congress should wait until next year to address immigration, arguing that it made no sense to take up an issue that divides the GOP in an election year. They also argued that the Republicans have a legitimate shot at capturing Senate control and could dictate the terms of any legislation.
“I have made clear for 15 months the need for the Congress and the administration to work together on the issue of immigration reform. It needs to get done. I’m going to continue to talk to my members about how to move forward, but the president is going to have to do his part,” Boehner said.
The Senate last June passed a bipartisan bill that would tighten border security, provide enforcement measures and offer a path to citizenship for immigrants living here without government authorization.
The measure has stalled in the House where Boehner and other leaders have rejected a comprehensive approach in favor of a bill-by-bill process.
Boehner’s pessimistic comments came just two days after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters that differences between the Senate’s comprehensive approach and the House’s piecemeal strategy were an “irresolvable conflict.”
“I don’t see how you get to an outcome this year with the two bodies in such a different place,” McConnell told reporters.