WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) distanced himself on Tuesday from comments he made last week that blamed GOP members for blocking immigration reform, instead turning the blame back to the president.
"There was no mocking," Boehner told reporters at a press conference. "You all know me -- you know, you tease the ones you love, right, but some people misunderstood what I had to say and I wanted to make sure the 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 hinted at some tension in a meeting held with House Republicans before the Tuesday press conference, saying he can “rib people just a little bit too much sometimes.”
The speaker has repeatedly said in the past that immigration is a tough haul because President Barack Obama has proved himself unwilling to enforce the law, citing Obamacare extensions in particular. Last week, however, Boehner seemed to pin the blame on members of his own conference, rather than solely on the president.
"Here's the attitude. 'Ohhhh. Don't make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard,'" Boehner told the Middletown Rotary Club in Ohio last Thursday. "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. ... They'll take the path of least resistance."
Boehner didn’t give a direct answer on Tuesday about whether there would be a vote on immigration reform in the coming months, or whether he stood by the substance of his remarks that some members would rather not address the issue, repeatedly talking about Obama instead.
"We’re going to continue to work with our members and have discussions to see if there’s a way forward,” he said. "But the president has to take action himself. He’s got to show the American people and show the Congress that he can be trusted to implement the law the way it might be passed.”
UPDATE: 2:50 p.m. -- Asked about Boehner's remarks on immigration at a press conference later Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) quipped, "I'm glad he is complaining about his members for a change and I don't have to."
Sabrina Siddiqui contributed reporting.