April 29th, 2014
12:04 PM ET
8 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. Sashatree

    HEY BOEHNER. MAN UP. PUT IT UP FOR A VOTE YOU COWARD!!!! Actions speak louder than words! I'm nearly 60 and I'm DONE listening to the GOP's lies, excuses, and bull dung about Immigration Reform! Boehner is a partisan HACK doing everything he can to block Democratic legislation and/or anything Obama wants to move on (in hopes of making his tenure look "bad" – which isn't possible!) BRING IT UP FOR A VOTE OR SHUT UP BOEHNER!!!!!

    April 29, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  2. Mike

    Really? And when Bush was in the Office and Republicans didn't pass it, what was it then, also lack of trust?!?
    Only a moron cannot see what a lame excuse he and the GOP keep fabricating. These illegals, the way I literally see it,
    contribute to this society tenfolds than any of this do-nothing GOP rep does. Anything that's been called for, they say "No".
    What in the world are they paid to do there? Nothing man, nothing, nothing, nothing...And there goes your hard earned dollar, in their pockets, for their health insurances, toward their pensions. What an official garbage some of us support!

    Now if you don't agree with my comment, then go pray for brains !

    April 29, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  3. Clyde

    Did the weeping Cheeto step in it again? bring on the bourbon and the tissues, I see a big old sloppy bender in his future...

    April 29, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  4. SteveS

    That's okay John.

    You're only doing, what the rest of the country had done for years now.

    April 29, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  5. marvalea

    "...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," ? Can't blame the POTUS for Congress' failure to do anything! Members of Congress seem to think they were elected merely to draw a paycheck and sit on their collective duffs. If the House GOP has a plan to reform immigration, put it before the members of Congress for a vote and get to work WITH Democrats towards effective reform. As for "enforcement of immigration laws" ... it appears from all the complaints from the supporters of illegals that the Obama administration has done considerably more towards enforcement than previous administrations!

    April 29, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  6. chop

    The biggest lie is "Some people misunderstood what I had to say". Nope. We got it, thanks.

    April 29, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  7. Tony

    Al-NY,NY, I don't think that the Republicans are too stupid to know they will not win on this issue. They know. Republicans have no intention to actually win or do anything on this issue. They just want an issue to get their base excited.

    April 29, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    Translation: "Mr. Speaker, it's David Koch on line one for you..."

    April 29, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Oh don't you worry.
    If you think CNN has effective "moderators" to filter out non-narrative comments, you haven't seen the GOPerville po-po in true action.
    Something to behold these GOPer chain yankers are.

    April 29, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    It looks like Orange Glo is saying: "Huh? What did I say that was so wrong?" in that picture.
    Lol!
    Laughing to keep from crying....

    April 29, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  11. Walter Jones

    Glad we brave enough to run the cows off our land.

    April 29, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  12. Bill

    It seems that neither political party platforms have what I'm looking for in a candidate, with the GOP lacking the most. Now, just when I see some light at the end of the GOP tunnel and start to regain some respect for Boehner, he backtracks and apologizes for having a spine and standing up for what is right; compromised, comprehensive immigration legislation.

    April 29, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  13. Harold Read

    We already have immigration laws. The lack of enforcement is destroying the country.

    Who needs advanced science and math programs in school, when all the funds are going to English-as-a-second language classes for kids that broke the law?

    Who needs infrastructure repair and maintenance when funds are reallocated for food stamps for illegal immigrants?

    Your tax dollars should be spent on your country for you, not a criminal who entered he country illegally.

    April 29, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  14. gerald

    Give all the immigrants Obama care and they will turn in their green cards and leave.

    April 29, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  15. Mark

    When this weak link says "the American people don't trust the President..." what he really means is that his tea party masters will not vote for any legislation brought up by Democrats. He just doesn't have the guts to say it out loud... spineless.

    April 29, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "repubs want the increase stopped first,"

    Good news: net illegal immigration is currently zero.

    April 29, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  17. Gunderson

    EH,
    News Flash. There will never be any immigration reform. The people know if we give this bunch Amnesty in 20 years there will be another 20 million wanting citizenship. The other bad news is if the illegals were to become citizens and keep the democrats-liberals in charge jobs will be non-existent poverty will be the norm. Look at it now. The economy is very fragile with the Liberals running the show. As they have the last 100 years! Your best bet is to send the Liberals Packing!

    April 29, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  18. Lolo

    He is trying to save his job. The GOP is trying to play both sides of the coin. They created the Tea Party monsters and now they can not control them.

    April 29, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "You do not grant amnesty first then do nothing to stop the flow"

    The extremely bipartisan Senate bill that Boehner refuses to allow the House to vote on contains provisions for DOUBLING the border patrol, building a $3B fence, putting all sorts of additional technology and equipment on the border, mandates use of e-verify, and contains all sorts of other measures to not only strengthen border security, but to de-incentivize illegal immigration. The GOP/Teatrolls won't vote on it because they want "step by step"...i.e., they want to start with piecemeal border security measures and then block everything else.

    The reality is, you're just worried that "the country is too damn brown," because we all know what the demographic shifts means for the GOP/Teatrolls. You do realize that when you say "stop the flow first," the majority of the Hispanic community hears "stop the country from turning browner," don't you? Don't you?

    April 29, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  20. eric e

    ge tthe illeagal immigrants out! then let the legal system handle it as should be done. these bleeding heart people talk about how the illegals are treated. sned them home and let them back as legal. problem solved!

    April 29, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  21. Thatguy371

    Boehner too rough on em? Gimme a break. The one he and McConnell are too rough on is President Obama... but they don't have to worry about getting called out for that from their base.

    April 29, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. m23w23

    Boehner knows how to trash talk because that's what he is trash talking RINO.

    April 29, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. Denise

    Nah, Divine intervention by none other than Boss Hogg himself!

    April 29, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  24. Romney..you're kidding, right?

    "the American people don't trust the President to enforce or implement the law that we may or may not pass,"

    Key phrase being "we may not pass" – because this congress is a do-nothing congress off historical proportions. PLEASE Dems, get out & vote!

    April 29, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  25. Jim

    This person is another perfect example while our government is not working! Honestly, he is not serving the American people and should be a salesman or PR person for a company of his choosing.

    April 29, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
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