House Speaker John Boehner: Immigration measure will be tough to pass this year

By Donna Cassata

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Feb. 6 2014 12:30 p.m. MST

The measure stalled in the House, where Boehner and other leaders have rejected a comprehensive approach in favor of a bill-by-bill process.

Boehner's comments raising doubts about the prospects for action on immigration legislation this year angered advocacy groups.

"I wish I could say I was surprised Speaker John Boehner is blaming President Obama for his own unwillingness to act on immigration reform," said Eddie Carmona, campaign manager for PICO National Network's Campaign for Citizenship. "The truth is, the speaker has, time and time again, proven that he would rather pander to the extreme portions of his party than work to achieve a bipartisan solution for an issue that impacts countless families and communities across the country."

Rocio Saenz, the Service Employees International Union's executive vice president, said Republicans have a choice: "They can pander to a small, extremist arm of the GOP and follow them into the political wilderness or they can do the right thing for our nation and pass immigration reform."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he didn't "blame Boehner alone. Because the Senate Republican leader threw cold water on this," a reference to McConnell's comments.

Members of the group of eight senators who put in long hours drafting legislation held out some hope for action this year. If the House fails to pass legislation, the Senate-passed bill dies at the end of the year, with the conclusion of the congressional session.

"I'm still optimistic that we'll get this done," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he was "guardedly optimistic" because "there is overwhelming support from business, from evangelicals, from across the board people we represent."

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said Boehner was trying to blame his own inaction on Obama and pressed the House for legislation.

Though Obama has threatened to act on his own if Congress does not move on some of his other priorities, Carney signaled that Obama was not prepared to act unilaterally on immigration.

"There's no alternative to comprehensive immigration reform passing through Congress," Carney said. "It requires legislation. And the president's made that clear in the past, and that continues to be his view."

Associated Press writers David Espo, Stephen Ohlemacher, Charles Babington and Jim Kuhnhenn contributed to this report.

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