POLITICS
06/12/2014 01:03 pm ET | Updated Jun 13, 2014

John Boehner: Eric Cantor Loss Didn't Kill Immigration Reform, Obama Did

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) didn't do much on Thursday to dispel the notion that immigration reform is dead -- he just disputed the idea that what killed it was House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-Va.) primary loss.

"The issue of immigration reform has not changed," Boehner said emphatically at a press conference. "The president continues to ignore laws that he signed into law, violating his oath of office. ... The president is going to have to demonstrate that he can be trusted to implement a law the way it was passed."

Cantor lost his Republican primary Tuesday to economics professor Dave Brat, who had campaigned against the majority leader as being pro-reform. Whether he actually lost because of immigration is up for debate -- many think his stance on the issue was not to blame -- but the news has prompted a flurry of proclamations that immigration reform has become impossible to pass this year. But it may have been impossible already.

Boehner has been saying for months he would like to address immigration reform, but Republicans fear that if they passed a law, President Barack Obama would ignore the parts of it he disliked. The speaker suggested the situation was exacerbated by the recent trade of five Taliban militants for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was being held in captivity in Afghanistan. The administration made the trade without notifying Congress.

Boehner said he told Obama on Wednesday "that every time he does this, it makes it harder to gain the trust of our members to do the big things that need to be done around here."

The speaker declined to speculate on why Cantor lost his race, but said he did not think immigration was necessarily the reason.

"We don't know that that [immigration] is the issue -- or was the issue -- in the election," Boehner said.

At a separate press conference on Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) agreed, although she argued in favor of moving on immigration reform this year.

"I'm not one of those who thought Eric Cantor was an advocate for immigration reform," Pelosi said. "In fact, I thought he was an obstacle. So I don't think this is an impediment to immigration reform. I don't think the race was about immigration; it was about a lot of other things."

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