Today, Speaker John Boehner got a little huffy with reporters who keep asking why he’s taken a backseat role on immigration reform.
“Nobody has spent more time trying to fix a broken immigration system than I have,” he claimed. “I talked about it the day after the election. And I’ve talked about it a hundred times since.”
That’s nice. While he may have said the word “immigration” out loud more than most members of the House, this in no way justifies the declaration he made.
What exactly has Speaker Boehner done on immigration? He’s declared that the immigration bill that has made the most progress in this Congress (the bipartisan Senate bill that passed 68-32 last month) will not be taken up by the House. Cowed by bullies in the House like Steve King, he’s insisted on putting any House vote on immigration through the Hastert rule—a “Republican procedural excuse,” as Frank Sharry put it this today. And he has sat on his hands and not brought any other immigration bill that addresses the 11 million to the House floor. So what could make Speaker Boehner possibly feel like he has worked harder than anyone else on immigration?
Such a claim is likely news to the likes of Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), who’s been arrested in protests for immigration reform and against deportations in front of the White House. It’s probably news to Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), who said during the KIDS Act hearing today that “I feel as if my entire time in Congress has been spent looking for a chance to fix our immigration system.” (She was first elected in 1995.) And it’s probably news to now-Senator Jeff Flake, who not only took a leading role in passing S. 744 through the Senate this summer, but also championed the last immigration reform effort in 2006-2007, when he was still a Congressman.
As we’ve written again and again, Boehner’s ‘hands-off approach’ to immigration has given extremists like Steve King free reign in the spotlight—with dire consequences for immigration reform as well as the national GOP. Boehner has dodged most questions when it comes to his opinion on what the House should do on immigration reform, preferring to claim that “it’s not about me.”
Well, Speaker Boehner, it is about you. There are CURRENTLY more than 218 votes in the House to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship. The only thing standing in the way is John Boehner. And if he were truly serious about trying to fix a broken immigration system—if he really wanted to be seen as someone who has furthered the issue—it’s simple. Just give us a vote.