House Speaker John Boehner told reporters yesterday that he hasn’t decided on moving immigration bills this year because the issue is still under debate within his caucus. But behind the scenes, Boehner appears to be continuing his push while his surrogates make the case in the media.
Boehner said, “Clearly, the draft principles we outlined, Members seemed to be supportive of them,” and added that Members are committed to addressing border security first if anything moves. But he said the next steps are unclear. “There was a lot of discussion about whether we should proceed and if we proceeded how we would proceed…We’re continuing to take comments from members about the draft principles, continuing the conversation that we started last Thursday. No decisions have been made.”
The same day, however, Boehner’s web site posted a rebuttal to certain criticisms of his principles. On a page entitled “Q&A: Draft Standards for Step-by-Step Immigration Reform” his press office posted explanations for questions like “Why do we need to act on immigration reform?” and “Isn’t your approach amnesty?”
A media report confirmed that the White House’s new legislative affairs director, Katie Beirne Fallon, recently discussed immigration with Boehner and his top lieutenants. And Rep. Paul Ryan (Wisc.), a major Republican amnesty proponent, confirmed that he had been meeting secretly with top Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer on immigration since last year.
Republican amnesty advocates like Rep. Jeff Denham (Calif.) made themselves available for media comments Tuesday. Denham downplayed reports that up to 80 percent of the Members at the retreat spoke against bringing a bill forward this year. He also said, “I think leadership's focus and my focus is to get [immigration] done as early as possible…It's part of our conference agenda right now. It doesn't go on the agenda without scheduling bills and scheduling time on the floor.” Denham said he had recently discussed immigration with Boehner, but Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s spokesperson, Rory Cooper, said “There has been nothing scheduled [for floor action] as of now.”
Ryan, commenting on the retreat showdown over immigration, said “It wasn't really bad. The substance of our document people really appreciated. It's just, like I said, the lawlessness of the White House makes us lose confidence that the President will enforce the laws.”
Other Republicans seemed to throw cold water on the prospects for immigration legislation. Rep. Raul Labrador (Idaho) saidBoehner should lose his leadership post if he pushes forward with immigration reform this year. He also refused to rule out running to replace Boehner even the Speaker relinquishes his immigration push this year. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who is challenging Democratic Sen. Tom Pryor in the fall, said “At this point I don't anticipate legislation will come to the floor.”
Some Senate Republicans are said to be nervous about an immigration fight spoiling their chance to win back the Senate in November. That may have prompted the previously silent Senate Minority Leader to go on the record yesterday. Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.) told reporters “We have sort of an irresolvable conflict here. The Senate insists on comprehensive. The House says it won’t go to conference with the Senate on comprehensive and wants to look at step-by-step. I don’t see how you get to an outcome this year with the two bodies in such a different place.” McConnell is facing a primary challenger, Matt Bevin, who is emphasizing an enforcement approach to immigration reform.
See more in Breitbart.
Updated: Wed, Feb 5th 2014 @ 2:44pm EST