Following the Republican conference meeting on Tuesday, Boehner was asked: “Rep. Rohrabacher said that if you bring immigration reform to the floor without the support of the GOP conference you will lose your job (as speaker). Do you think that’s accurate?”
“Maybe,” Boehner said after a long pause, to laughter from reporters.
“I think this immigration issue’s been kicked around in this town now for 15 years,” he said. “That’s why I said the day after the election it was time for Congress to do its work.”
Boehner said he is “increasingly concerned” that President Obama and Senate Democrats are shutting out Republican amendments to the Senate bill, which passed a cloture vote last week, 82-15. That clears the way for senators to vote on various amendments.
“I’m increasingly concerned that the White House and Senate Democrats would rather have this as an issue in the 2014 election rather than a result,” Boehner said. “It was the president who said that he wanted a robust vote coming out of the Senate to help move this process along. And yet here’s the president and the Senate Democrats working to limit the number of Republican votes that this immigration bill is likely to get. I think that’s unfortunate.”
Boehner said Republicans will hold a special conference meeting on July 10 to discuss immigration reform in the House.
“We’re going to lay all of this out and listen to what the members have to say,” he said. “I also suggested to our members today that any immigration reform bill that is going to go into law ought to have a majority of both parties’ support, if we’re really serious about making that happen.
“And so I don’t see any way of bringing an immigration bill to the floor that doesn’t have the majority support of Republicans,” Boehner said. “I just think the White House and Senate Democrats ought to get very serious.
Boehner said border security "is absolutely essential" and must come first. "And I frankly think the Senate bill is weak on border security. I think the internal enforcement mechanisms are weak, and the triggers are almost laughable.
“So, if they’re serious about getting an immigration bill finished, I think the president and Senate Democrats ought to reach out to their Republican colleagues to build broad bipartisan support for the bill.”
On Monday, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) said Boehner should lose his job as speaker if he moves an immigration reform bill that does not have majority support of Republicans.
“If Speaker Boehner moves forward and permits this to come to a vote even though the majority of the Republicans in the House—and that’s if they do—oppose whatever it is that’s coming to a vote, he should be removed as Speaker,” Rohrabacher said.
The Senate voted last week to move forward with its bill that will grant eventual citizenship to 11 million illegal aliens before securing the border.
The “triggers” Boehner mentioned can currently be waived by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the Senate bill, including requirements for clean criminal records and fines for illegal immigrants to be granted legal status.
The bill requires DHS to secure the border within five years—but if not, the legislation will set up a commission to address the issue.
The Senate voted down an amendment last week that would have required DHS to secure the border for at least six months before granting legal status to illegal immigrants.
The Senate resumes consideration of the immigration reform bill today, with debate and a vote on several pending amendments.