April 29th, 2014
12:04 PM ET
3 months ago

Boehner admits immigration comments went too far

Washington (CNN) – After mocking his fellow GOP members last week for complaining immigration reform was "too hard," House Speaker John Boehner reminded House Republicans at a closed-door meeting "you tease the ones you love" but admitted he shouldn't have made fun of them publicly.

The speaker repeated that message to reporters after the Tuesday meeting, downplaying his comments that triggered a firestorm, mostly from outside conservative groups critical of Boehner's efforts on immigration.

"Some people misunderstood what I had to say and I wanted to make sure that members understood that the biggest impediment we have in moving immigration reform is that the American people don't trust the President to enforce or implement the law that we may or may not pass," Boehner said.

Boehner, talking about his colleagues on Capitol Hill, said last week "here's the attitude: 'Ohhhh, don't make me do this. Ohhhh, this is too hard.'"

His complaints were recorded on camera at a Rotary Club event in his Ohio district. The speaker went on to say that "we get elected to make choices. We get elected to solve problems and it's remarkable to me how many of my colleagues just don't want to." He added “they'll take the path of least resistance."

On Tuesday, he waved off any backlash over last week’s comments. "Our members know me, all right? And, but you know, sometimes I can rip people just a little too much, sometimes. This wouldn't be the first time.”

Several House GOP members told CNN they weren't surprised at the speaker’s comments in Ohio, saying it's common for Boehner to give them a hard time.

Louisiana Republican Rep. John Fleming said Boehner argued that his fellow GOP members should know he was kidding around but Boehner also conceded that he “went a little too far."

Immigration reform advocates viewed Boehner's willingness to vent his frustration about his colleagues as a signal he was ready to set aside the solid opposition from a block of conservatives and move forward on some form of bipartisan immigration reform legislation.

But Boehner insisted Tuesday that President Obama, not division within his own ranks, was the biggest obstacle to passing immigration reform.

He sidestepped a question about whether the House would vote on any legislation before the summer recess in August, saying he was continuing to talk to his members "to see if there's a way forward."

The speaker attempted to flip the burden back to Obama on immigration saying, "he's got to show the American people and show the Congress that he can be trusted to implement the law the way it may be passed."

Fleming, one conservative who opposes any effort to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers, said Boehner "actually doubled down today on our existing position, which is to not move forward until the President gets right with us."


Filed under: House • Immigration • John Boehner
soundoff (123 Responses)
  1. Macc

    With so many Americans out of work, why are we even talking about immigration? Let Obama keep deporting!

    April 29, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  2. joe dokes

    I guess someone threatened to take away his key to the executive washroom if he didn't shut up and do what he was told.

    April 29, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  3. FauxGOPFUp

    @Bruce: but putting up a 3000 mile long fence would be free and deporting everyone would be cheap. No easy answers, including the GOP's incredible lack of clarity or ability to form a policy that even all republicans would support.

    April 29, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  4. shawn l

    Why is it so difficult for conservatives to understand the benefits illegal immigrants pose to our society? Low cost labor, hard work, and know how in area we are lacking. There are thousands of people who every year spend a lot of money to become legal citizens, yet there are no greencard programs for migrant workers to allow them to come here, work, and go home.. Why should we just let tens of thousands of workers become criminals? Don't have a green card? Hey, no problem. Here's one for you. Don't pay any attention to those people over there taking the test to become legal citizens since they dont want to become citizens, they just want to earn money for their families. Nothing to see there...

    April 29, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  5. Quixote

    Oh please. It is the first time he has made any sense in years. Stop being a whiny weepy little puss john and man up.

    April 29, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  6. me

    Boehner saw the light for a moment'then the aides quickly adjusted the blinders... back to the "Do nothing but obstruct" plan the GOP subscribed to years ago... classic!

    April 29, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Rudy NYC
    Happy to provide it Rudy.
    Good to hear you're not in pain my friend.

    April 29, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  8. CrashMan

    Figures. He finally shows he's man enough to stand up to the obstructionists in Congress, then backtracks and decides he's not. That"s our speaker in action.

    April 29, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "Why is it so difficult for liberals to understand the burden illegal immigrants pose to our society?"

    Because the facts don't support your demagoguery. Not in terms of the economy, not in terms of jobs, not in terms of the wealth of cultural diversity they bring to the table, not in terms of the historical record, etc. The Senate's immigration reform bill would create 6M jobs and grow the gross domestic product over the next decade and help reduce the deficit. I'm very sorry that reality isn't what you'd rather it be, but life's not fair.

    April 29, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  10. sonny chapman

    I just hope the kids aren't watching these "Adults".

    April 29, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  11. CrashMan

    Bill, Bloomington Il

    Funny how liberals like to pick and choose which laws are enforced.
    ----------------------
    Sort of like how the Repubs got behind Bundy when he violated federal law by not paying grazing fees for over 20 years and lost case after case in court over that time. He armed himself and his friends against federal authorities, and the GOP said he was a hero and a patriot.

    April 29, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  12. aCriticalEye

    Damn, how I hate the current batch of Teapublicans

    April 29, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  13. 1776usa2016

    Boehner, until you excise the Tea Party you're never going to get any of those clowns to do anything.

    .

    April 29, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    I suppose it could've been some "liquid courage" that had him saying the correct thing at that town hall...then he sobered up and remembered which side of his bread is buttered and who's holding the land-o-lakes. Lamenting your contributions to the creation of Astroturf Frankenstein yet, Mr. Weeper?

    April 29, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  15. Rob

    Never realized the office of the president was a Law Enforcement Officer position. My taxes are going to waste with all the police officers who think they enforce the law.

    April 29, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  16. Pogojo

    Immigration laws enforced before immigration reform...

    April 29, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  17. Javier

    lol, I don't think the editors could have found a more disparaging photo if they tried.

    April 29, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  18. YUCK

    the republican and the democrat party needs too worried about Russian immigrants stepping into our country, at least the Mexicans immigrants have contributed to our nation,look how russia is behaving right now..at least when I eat a fruit I'm always thankful for our pickers who work hard out in the fields in severe weather.most of our building being built today are by hard working Mexicans and Latinos..so instead of making fun of Latinos they should be thanking them for contributing to society:(

    April 29, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  19. Loathstheright

    Anything he says in being said in a drunken haze.

    April 29, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  20. columbus

    He was just joking around? This entire congress is a joke.

    April 29, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  21. Pogojo

    If they enforced the immigration laws already in place, we would not need immigration reform

    April 29, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  22. stevetall

    I thought this guy was dead, but I guess it's just from the neck up. We need a new Speaker of the House who actually has America's best interests at heart. Boehner ain't it, folks. Just another weasel doing the dirty work for those who would undermine the social and economic structure of America. Throw the bum out!

    April 29, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  23. greenaxe

    This moment of clarity was brought to you by the GOP.

    April 29, 2014 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
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