April 29th, 2014
12:04 PM ET
4 years 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. Al-NY,NY

    Rushbo and the other leaders of the party (Cruz/Simple Sarah/Shammity) all got on the phone immediately and chastised him. Just as we thought, he caves

    April 29, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    So cowardly & predictable of Boehner. The man doesn't have enough guts & intestinal fortitude to stand by what he said. If he was serious about immigration reform he'd put it up for vote. #WeakestSpeakerEver

    April 29, 2014 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  3. Dems in PA

    bipartisan immigration reform legislation; what a joke; the laughs just keep on coming. . How about; first; close the border and enforce the existing immigration laws. Second; deal with the unemployed AMERICAN public.

    April 29, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  4. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Now who didn't see THIS coming???? Boehner knows the deal and if he wants to keep his cushy job, he better tow the line and bash President Obama at least 3 times daily and 4 on Sunday.

    April 29, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. amazed

    He joined Democrats in giving aid and comfort to immigration law breakers 8 the US Chamber of Commerce and to immigration lobbyists.

    April 29, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  6. John

    "Until the president gets right with us".....................i.e. agrees with us ................

    April 29, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. Norma Vessels

    The President can't be trusted??? Don't you have that remark on the wrong foot? You and your Republican Representatives in the House are the ones that won't do anything for anyone at any time. Now, since it's election year, you want to "mend your ways, at least in the eyes of the public .. until after the election" and look responsible.

    In my eyes, you'll never be responsible because you don't want to help President Obama do anything. You and your Republican friends are no more than puffs of smoke.

    April 29, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  8. Chris-E...al

    It seems that to immigrate illegally would be something we all could agree is wrong . Other nations dont allow others to just walk in and take their resources . We have sent many jobs south north east west anyway enough is enough . Id like just to have the textile jobs back if nothing else .

    April 29, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. Al-NY,NY

    Dems in PA

    bipartisan immigration reform legislation; what a joke; the laughs just keep on coming. . How about; first; close the border and enforce the existing immigration laws.

    I won't get a real answer but I'll ask anyway......................please define "close the border" for us. The GOP will NEVER EVER agree to anything done and will continue to say "inadequate. do more" That way, they can continue to stall an issue that they will never win on. but they're too stupid to realize it so...

    April 29, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. Thomas

    Everybody is making fun of the GOP house .

    The most expensive non productive congress in HISTORY !

    April 29, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  11. Rick McDaniel

    Boehner needs to step down.

    April 29, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  12. ShawnDH

    Boehner was correct and honest for once...so naturally he has to apologize.

    April 29, 2014 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  13. PushingBack

    Let's see a republican talking out of his anus...nothing new to see here folks.

    April 29, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  14. sly

    The Party of Stupid never ceases to amaze Americans. Just like President Obama said about the racist: "Let ignorant people talk so everyone can laugh at their ignorance until they crawl back into their slimy holes".

    Thank goodness we elected President Obama!

    April 29, 2014 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  15. Ramon F Herrera

    Does this sheet work?

    April 29, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  16. Ramon F Herrera

    FACT: This legislation will be enforced by FUTURE presidents. So, stop using that as an excuse.

    I guess you folks have lost all hopes to ever see the inside of the White House???

    April 29, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  17. Yes It's Not

    Just when Boehner started to show some spine, he reveals that he has the backbone of an amoeba.

    The GOP should seriously go to Vegas for their convention. Maybe then they could all hit the blackjack tables and learn when they are actually supposed to double down.

    April 29, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  18. Roe

    Sad sad state of affairs we are in.

    April 29, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  19. Jim


    April 29, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  20. Herbal Tea

    I thought that all legislation began in the House or Representatives and not with the President of the United States. I guess Mr. Boehner would like the President to do his job for him as he seems unable to do it himself.

    April 29, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  21. Greg In Arkansas

    When you have dirt-bags like GOP Rep. Michael Grimm that hire illegals for cash under the table, don't report their earnings or pay their taxes, what else can we expect from the party of NO when it comes to immigration reform....??

    April 29, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  22. rla

    We understood what he said- Conservatives want nothing to do with this guy– He does not speak for American citizens

    April 29, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  23. lilspenny

    He didn't go to far. The GOP are a bunch of sissies when it comes to not just immigration, but any issue of importance to anyone. Well, anyone except millionaires or religious extremists. If you want to make a Republican jump, don't tell them that millions of people are going to be homeless because of unemployment cuts or government shutdowns or lack of medical insurance or whatever... Tell them you are thinking about raising taxes by 1% on income over $1M. Or tell them that just maybe, you are going to make birth control available to someone who doesn't have access to it now. That will prove to you that a TeaBagger is still listening.

    April 29, 2014 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  24. kols

    There are always excuses not to do anything. We can't trust Obama to enforce the law and build the fence first are the excuses they use not to do anything. The longer we wait the worse the problem becomes. The truth is the illegals will get to stay no matter which party is in office. Why? Because business wants them here to drive down wages. Whenever you have an over supply of labor it will drive down wages and benefits along with it.

    April 29, 2014 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  25. Tony D

    Is this not the point where Boener would be calling for resignations???

    April 29, 2014 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
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