Boehner shrugs off criticism of inaction on immigration, calls fiscal issues top priority
By The Los Angeles Times
Published: Sunday, July 21, 2013, 7:51 p.m.
WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner said on Sunday that fixing the nation's fiscal problems, not its immigration laws, is his top priority, as the most comprehensive proposal in a generation languishes in the Republican-controlled House.
Boehner has appeared unswayed by the political momentum behind the bipartisan Senate bill, and even after talking last week with President Obama, he wants the House to take its time.
The speaker dismissed critics who call this Congress among the most unproductive in years.
He defended the House's decision to hold dozens of votes to repeal the nation's 2010 health care law — bills that are almost certain never to become law.
“We should not be judged on how many new laws we create. We ought to be judged on how many laws that we repeal,” he said.
Boehner said he remained “optimistic” that Congress could do something “to fix our fiscal situation.”
Legislation to fund the government and avoid a federal shutdown will be at the top of the agenda when lawmakers return in the fall from the August recess. Funding for federal operations expires Sept. 30.
The bipartisan Senate-passed immigration bill establishes a 13-year path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants. Many Republican House members have few minority voters in their districts and do not consider the issue a priority.
“If I come out and say I'm for this and I'm for that, all I'm doing is making my job harder,” Boehner said.
Supporters of the immigration bill said taking it slow on the issue puts the party at political risk. “The Republicans have a decision to make: They can stay out of touch and in denial, or they can get this done,” said Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif.
This week, a House committee plans to debate a more limited pathway to citizenship for immigrants brought to the country as minors - a proposal Democrats and immigration advocates oppose as insufficient.
The “Kids Act,” being formed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., would give Republicans a way to ease into the idea of legalizing those who are in the country illegally without embracing the broader path that most Republicans still oppose. The bill promises to be substantially different from the Dream Act - provisions included in the Senate bill that would give young immigrants an expedited citizenship path if they attend college or join the military.
Boehner embraced Cantor's proposal as a matter of “fairness” last week - saying young people without legal status should not be punished because their parents entered the country illegally or stayed on expired visas.
But many of the “Dreamers,” young people who could benefit by the act, said they are not willing to leave their parents in legal limbo at a time when the Senate bill provides a broader path for almost all immigrants in the country to become legal.
“The ‘Kids Act' is just childish games by House Republicans,” Cesar Vargas, director of a coalition that advocates for young immigrants, said recently. “It pits dreamers against our families.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- ‘Walking Dead’ actress guilty of sending ricin letters
- Farm bill off for now, but milk prices not expected to spike — yet
- 6-year-old Colo. boy suspended for giving girl a kiss
- Budget deal reverses $63B in cuts, excludes extension of jobless benefits
- House Republicans signal support for budget deal
- Car hits deer, which flies into jogger
- Texas’ Cornyn prepared for Senate challenge
- ‘Volcker Rule’ restricts banks in risky investments
- Longtime intel adviser resigns as feds learn of link to China tech company
- Teen found with dead fetus heads toward trial on shoplifting charges
- Congress scrambles to pass Defense package