April 29th, 2014
12:04 PM ET
5 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. Rudy NYC

    When it comes to immigration, Republicans talk the talk, but refuse to walk the walk. Republicans say that they do not want a large scale overhaul of immigration, or anything for that matter. They always prefer a "piece meal" approach to solving major problems,....or so they say. The prooof is what they actualy do, or try to do. So far, they've done nothing, just like what they've done when it comes to health care reform. Nothing.

    How many bills did Republicans bring to the floor of the House or Senate during the Bush years. Zero. During Bush's last two years when the House was controlled by Democrats, a bill got through the House only to be killed by a filibuster by Senate Republicans. How many "piece meal" immigration bills have House Republicans brought to the floor for a vote? Zero. The talking point seems to be the following. "We don't need legislation. We need to enforce the laws already on the books." Zero. That's the Republican piece meal approach, a great big Zero.

    April 29, 2014 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  2. Nutcase

    This fellow is as weak as they come. He likely cries when his wife tells him to do the dishes.

    April 29, 2014 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  3. iceload

    For a couple of seconds Boehner showed real leadership. Relax, it was a fluke, everything's back to normal. The corporations can relax they still own congress.

    April 29, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  4. Bastage

    Did he cry again?

    April 29, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  5. pchelp, Juneau, AK

    Um, they won't pass a law because they don't trust Obama to implement it-but until they pass a law they have no proof (and little evidence) whether Obama will implement it or not. This reminds me of cutting off your nose to spite your face-except the GOP is cutting off the noses of immigrants. No skin off their noses, right?

    April 29, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  6. Pogojo

    Its not that repubs dont want to fix the immigration issue, its the dems want something we do not agree with, dems want amnesty, repubs want the increase stopped first, then we will look at what to do with the law breakers after that. You do not grant amnesty first then do nothing to stop the flow, stop the flow first

    April 29, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Looks like somebody yanked the Crier of the House's chain, much in the same manner that they yanked Jeb Bush's and told him to shut up shutting up about immigration.
    Emasculation Rethugliklan style.

    April 29, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  8. amazed

    One definition of "close the border" is mandatory e-Verify with jail time for CEOs in their plush suites and corporate jets if their company violates immigration law. Same deal for rural and urban businesses that do the same thing.

    April 29, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  9. Pogojo

    Repubs just do not agree on immigration reform as the dems call it, stop the flow then deal with the law brealers

    April 29, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  10. Willie K.

    Boehner told the truth. So he was punished. That's the Grand Ogur Party at its best.

    April 29, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. jimmy

    Every now and then Boehner actually says things that appear lucid, logical, and in the best interest of the country... and 100% of the time he changes course or retracts after 24h. It's a shame because there are times it appears he has a good heart and mind, only to be controlled by his party like a rag doll. Legends stand up against the current... and he it proving to be just another ordinary Joe that history will forget.

    April 29, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    This reminds me of cutting off your nose to spite your face-except the GOP is cutting off the noses of immigrants. No skin off their noses, right?
    -------------------------------------------------
    Well, not yet.
    Let's see if they have any "skin" left in the game after the mid-terms before we callit quits shall we?

    April 29, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. BostonFred

    Repeat after me... Illegal aliens are not legal immigrants.

    April 29, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  14. Pogojo

    Republicans do not agree with the immigration reform that the democrats push, stop the flow first. Then go after the criminals

    April 29, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  15. clarence

    Obama's immigration plan. If you like your green card you can keep your green card...

    April 29, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  16. Pogojo

    He got put in his place

    April 29, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  17. NOPhah Kingweigh

    OMG, that was close! For a brief moment I was concerned that there might possibly be a voice of reason in the GOP. Gosh, I hope that doesn't happen again.

    April 29, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  18. Pogojo

    Repubs do not agree with dems on this

    April 29, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  19. Kathy, AZ

    No he didn't. I LOVED it. For once, a Republican told the truth.

    April 29, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  20. babooph

    If his delusions fade, he can tune in to FOX for support..

    April 29, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  21. ART

    Someone please find Boehner a back bone

    April 29, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  22. MightyMoo

    No you didn't Mr. Boehner.

    April 29, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  23. Melba Isom

    He must have stayed at the bar too long and forgot he was meeting with his own people.

    April 29, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  24. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    jimmy

    Every now and then Boehner actually says things that appear lucid, logical, and in the best interest of the country... and 100% of the time he changes course or retracts after 24h. It's a shame because there are times it appears he has a good heart and mind, only to be controlled by his party like a rag doll. Legends stand up against the current... and he it proving to be just another ordinary Joe that history will forget
    -------------------------------------------------
    Very observant of you jimmy and wells aid.
    I've stated in the past that Boehner and Pesident Obama actually get along...behind closed doors. Boehner, what's left of the orginal, is actually one of the old-line Republicans of yore that would be willing to compromise to do what's right for th country as a whole and to get along. Let's face it, that's a crucial part of politics. At least it used to be.
    He is now hemmed, hammered, and hampered by a deranged few Teatards in the House and other Republicans afraid of faceing more of those deranged Teatards during their re-election cycle.
    Too bad.
    Your aptly worded phrase:" A legend stands against the current..." describes our current President to a "T".

    April 29, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  25. rs

    I don't know. That is probably the first time I have agreed with Mr. Boehner in years. His GOP House members are for all intents and purposes trolls whose sole duty seems to be defiance and public stupidity in regards to dealing with the real problems of our nation.

    April 29, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
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