House Speaker John A. Boehner said Tuesday that getting a big immigration deal remains on hold until President Obama takes some steps to prove he will enforce any law Congress passes — once again tamping down on expectations his chamber will get a bill done this year.
Mr. Boehner cast the prospects for tackling immigration as tentative, saying he’s exploring “if there’s a way forward” among his fellow Republicans — but said the president’s decision to make unilateral changes to Obamacare “raises more angst.”
“The biggest impediment we have in moving immigration reform is the American people don’t trust the president to enforce or implement the law that we may or may not pass,” Mr. Boehner told reporters.
He also defended his comments to a rotary club meeting last week when he appeared to be mocking his fellow Republicans for their reluctance to move on the immigration issue.
“There was no mocking,” the Ohio Republican said, though he added, “you tease the ones you love.”
Congress is returning from a two-week vacation that saw a number of signs that immigration may return to the House agenda later this year.
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Last week, Mr. Boehner said too many of his members refuse to take a vote on immigration because they want “the path of least resistance.” That seemed to contrast with his other statements blaming Mr. Obama for the skittishness.
For his part, Mr. Obama faces a dilemma. Under pressure from immigrant-rights advocates, he has asked his Homeland Security secretary to see if there are ways to halt deportations for even more illegal immigrants living and working in the U.S.
But that move would play into House GOP fears that the president wouldn’t enforce any new immigration restrictions that would be included in a broad immigration bill.