By David Beasley
ATLANTA, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Vice President Joe Biden strongly criticized House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday, saying he was refusing "to fix a broken system" by failing to work with the Senate on U.S. immigration reform.
Biden was responding to comments a day earlier by Boehner who said he will not negotiate with Democrats to resolve differences between the Senate immigration reform bill passed in June and legislation the Republican-controlled House ends up passing.
"We have made it clear that we are going to move on a common sense, step-by-step approach," the speaker said, repeating his opposition to the Senate legislation. "We have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill."
In June, the Senate approved a bill to bolster border security, help business get needed workers and provide an earned pathway to U.S. citizenship for up to 11 million undocumented immigrants.
The House has since passed a few limited bills, most dealing with enforcement and none providing a pathway to U.S. citizenship.
Biden, speaking to 104 new citizens at a naturalization ceremony at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Change, said the House speaker was not allowing the legislative process to work.
"He will not allow the House to play by fair play - the American way, to let the Congress actually vote their conscience to fix a broken system," the vice president said. "This is a step backward in the history of the country."
Biden urged the newly sworn-in Americans to push for immigration reform to help millions of undocumented residents living "in the shadows" of the United States.
"Don't pull up the ladder behind you," the vice president said. "There are millions of people who are already acting as decent Americans and deserve a chance, deserve a path. Reach back. Help as you move on. Don't be afraid. Lend your voice to those seeking the same rights you achieved today." (Editing By David Adams and Ken Wills)