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. Tom Bukowski

    Do nothing, again.

    April 29, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  2. wesscott2014

    "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 seems to forget that Reagan relaxed federal immigration laws forgiving millions who had come here illegally and vowing to begin an era of strict immigration reform and border control, or that Reagan, Bush, Clinton and W all failed to exercise ANY efforts to secure our borders. As usual, Boehner says what his red meat fans want to hear rather than dealing in truth and fact.

    April 29, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  3. Bruce

    Why is it so difficult for liberals to understand the burden illegal immigrants pose to our society? Welfare, health care, crime. There are thousands of people who every year spend a lot of money to become legal citizens. Why should we just let tens of thousands more just walk in? 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. Nothing to see there...

    April 29, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  4. an Iowan

    Too bad there was not stricter immigration laws when the Boehner family first arrived in the United States.........

    April 29, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  5. ghostwriter

    In a moment of clarity, Boehner called out his peoples for not wanting to actually do anything but depart all illegals. Since then, he came back to his senses.

    April 29, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  6. herky01

    Aww, come on fellas, I didn't mean it. Maybe you just misunderstood what I meant by amnesty.

    April 29, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  7. LucyRicardo

    Want to fix immigration? Just screen all immigrants for communicable diseases, bedbugs, etc. Then require that they serve honorably in the military for two years before being given a green card or any type of residency. If they want the benefits, they have to put up or shut up. Noted: Many of the Latino immigrants already bravely and honorably serve in the military . . . how about all these other countries??????

    April 29, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  8. Sniffit

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

    Considering all the contrary facts that completely and utterly undermine this ridiculous excuse the GOPers/Teatrolls are letting fly, there's really only one way to interpret it. It's more dogwhistling.

    The country is too brown for their liking, be it for reasons of racism or just self-interested partisan frustration that the growing minority community does not vote for GOPers/Teatrolls. The country getting browner. They think part of the reason for it is that all the new brown people are illegals....and the GOP/Teatrolls have fostered that misconception at every turn.

    So what it really comes down to is that they're dogwhistling this to the base: "President Darky, being dark, is of course trying to help his darky legions take over your country, and he's doing it by trying to help them come here illegally."

    April 29, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  9. Kokomo Joe

    Future....Keystone XL pipeline vacuums all the oil to China; Chinese use it to take tens of millons of American jobs to make imports for Americans, poorer every day, to buy; rich China builds invasion force to take USA and Canada by force; Chinese hang republican traitors by their own ....red..(ironically) ties. No one trusts traitors or corrupt lyin thieves.

    April 29, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    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.
    -------------------------
    Yank? It was more like a "clean and jerk" in both cases. Thanks for the SUPPORT, mama. No back surgery as of yet, though. It's still going through the litigation issues. The auto accident made an old injury worse. No worry, I'm not in pain. It's just that one day every other month or so.

    April 29, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  11. Bill, Bloomington Il

    Funny how liberals like to pick and choose which laws are enforced.

    April 29, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  12. an Iowan

    But Boehner insisted Tuesday that President Obama, not division within his own ranks, was the biggest obstacle to passing immigration reform.
    BAHAHAHA!
    Obama will be long out of office by the time these do-nothings come up with anything regarding immigration....(Presidents are limited by law to 2 terms in office for those who don't know anything about our government.....)

    April 29, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  13. davecu

    While I despise what BOTH party's have become, I would still like PROOF that Obama and DOJ WOULD enforce laws passed unlike currently where they pick and chose which laws to enforce and which to ignore!

    April 29, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  14. 866bway

    Don't trust the president, Mr. Speaker? Pass a bill that takes effect after he leaves office. Anything else is just a weak excuse.

    April 29, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  15. The Real Tom Paine

    @ Bill, Bloomington II, funny, it would seem as though the Right has a much more extensive track record of selective law and regulation enforcement, but the Right seems to think that's just good business until a Democrat is in charge.

    April 29, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  16. Vence

    Back pedaling too much Boehner!

    April 29, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  17. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    HILARIOUS watching Guns Over People teatards walk the plank toward another November. Can't wait to see bonehead pass immigration reform in time for Nov 4. The ten million Republican voters who stayed home in 2012 will look like a drop in the bucket.

    April 29, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  18. FauxGOPFUp

    don't blame the president for your party's total lack of efficacy.

    April 29, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  19. FauxGOPFUp

    @ Bill. And Bundy? GOP/Fux rallied around a racist to enforce what law?

    April 29, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  20. The Real Tom Paine

    hmmm

    Gunderson only feel that somehow liberals being in charge for 100 years lead to this problem. Maybe Gundy is looking in wrong place: start with mirror and then take meds like Mommy told you, otherwise Nanny will come for you.

    April 29, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  21. Ivan Ichibum

    Typical. It's Obama's fault the Republican-controlled House fails to pass any meaningful legislation Figures, they've been pinning everything on him since Jan. 20, 2009, why stop now? Not that the President doesn't deserve any criticism, but it would be nice if he was only blamed for his own failings, and not the failings of others as well.

    April 29, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  22. blakenaustin

    Boehner needs to go. Sadly he has far more in common with the Democrats than he does with conservatives. This RINO has done the GOP much harm.

    April 29, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  23. callmecrazy

    Yes blame it on Obama and avoid responsibility. That's all you are good for.

    April 29, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  24. John

    Immigrants are not white. End or excuse list

    April 29, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  25. Moonhill

    We need to enforce the laws already on the books, provide better border security and stop granting citizenship to children born to illegals. We also need to put more penalties for those who hire illegals. We wouldn't have to worry that the minimum wage is so low if we didn't have all these illegals willing to work for almost nothing while they are paid cash under the table.

    April 29, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
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