‘It’s my job to ensure that our members get a good bill’

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Six months after becoming majority leader, Rep. John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, sat down this week with The Washington Times to discuss Republican priorities and negotiations in Congress to pass an immigration reform bill.

Question: What is the real likelihood of passing an immigration bill this year?

Answer: I’d say the chances are 2-to-1 before the end of the year.

Q: Honestly? Both sides are pretty dug in.

A: I’ve had senators talk to me — Democrats and Republicans — who want to move on. Our hearings are having an effect on them. So, I think there’s a way to get there.

Q: Which side will have to give in?

A: We’ll know more on Labor Day after we go through August and the hearings.

Q: You were among the 17 House Republicans who voted against the House enforcement-only bill. Why?

A: There were issues in my jurisdiction [as chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee] in the bill. I was being denied my jurisdiction. Finally, they gave me my jurisdiction for 24 hours, which got under my skin. The employer provisions in there on verification — I wanted to do my work. I thought the Judiciary Committee work was haphazard, and I thought the employer provisions were nothing but unfunded mandates.

Q: How so?

A: Requiring them to look at all workers — all their workers, not new hires, all their existing employees — there’s no system to verify that, and we’re talking about a huge database run by the federal government. Scares me to death.

And so, for all those reasons, it was just easier to vote no.

In hindsight, I was probably more angry about jurisdiction than I was about the provision itself.

Q: If you hadn’t been upset about how it was handled, would you have voted for it?

A: Yeah. I voted for the fence. I voted for a lot of the amendments to make it tougher.

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