Following deliberations with rank and file Republicans on the way forward on immigration reform, House Speaker John Boehner still refused to indicate whether he is personally supportive of a pathway to citizenship or legalization for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in America.
“My job is do everything I can to facilitate a process for solving this problem, and that’s what I’m going to continue to do,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said during a news conference today at the Capitol.
Boehner added, “It’s going to take some bipartisan cooperation” in order to proceed on future legislation, but characterized the special conference meeting as “a good conversation.”
“The current system’s broken. It needs to be fixed,” Boehner said. “We get elected by the American people to come here and to do their work on behalf of them when it comes to our government. We got a broken system that needs to be fixed, and I made a strong case yesterday that it needs to be fixed, and Republicans ought to be part of the solution.”
Boehner emphasized that Republicans are particularly weary of enacting a massive bill similar in size to the president’s signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act, and he reiterated that the House will work on a “step-by-step, common-sense approach” to immigration reform.
“Moving through this in a methodical, step-by-step approach allows members to read the bills, understand the bills, and frankly, allows the American people to have greater confidence that we’ve got our arms around what we’re doing, and that we’re doing it in a way that they can be supportive of,” he said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Congress “must keep the momentum forward” and a bill must be finished by the end of the year because “it’s unlikely that it’s going to happen in an election year.”
“I’m concerned about the delay because, why? Why would we delay? Why don’t we just get about the business of doing a bill?” Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “We really should get moving on it and see where there’s areas of agreement where we can pass a bill so that we can go to conference and then have the further discussion.”
“Delay can create problems,” she added. “Public sentiment is everything, and while some of our colleagues say there aren’t that many Hispanics in their districts to make a difference in their re-election — some Republicans say that — the fact is that many Republicans in our country support comprehensive immigration reform.”
Boehner, however, downplayed the necessity to enact legislation by the end of the year.
“I’m much more concerned about doing it right than I am of meeting some deadline,” he said.
Asked whether he believes immigration reform is in his party’s interest given the presumption that Latino voters could view Republicans to blame if a bill is not enacted, Boehner said reform is “more about doing the right thing for the country.”
“People want to get into a political conversation. I don’t think it’s appropriate,” he said. “We’ve got a broken immigration system. It needs to be fixed.”