House Speaker John Boehner holds a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington March 21, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
House Speaker John Boehner addressing the need for comprehensive immigration reform during his weekly press conference on Thursday morning:
We've got a broken system and it needs to be fixed. I made a strong case yesterday that it needs to be fixed. And that Republicans ought to be part of the solution. It's always in the party's best interest when we're doing the right thing for the country.
Yes, of course, Republicans ought to be part of the solution. Who could possibly argue with that? Now, if only Boehner knew someone in a position of power who could do something about making it happen. But here's the best he can come up with:
It's clear that dealing with this in bite-sized chunks that members can digest—and the American people can digest—is the smartest way to go.
If Boehner wants to say the problem is members of his conference are choking on immigration reform, that's fair enough. Obviously, they are. But the public isn't the problem here. They don't need help digesting it. Poll after poll shows that Americans overwhelmingly favor comprehensive immigration reform. The real obstacle to reform is the cabal of anti-immigration right-wingers in Boehner's conference.

Boehner once again repeated his opposition the Senate bill, saying its "triggers for border security" are insufficient and that the House is "not going to do the Senate bill." That was a clear effort to appease the anti-immigration cabal, but Boehner also said: "I've also made clear that the House is going to do it's job."

Notably, Boehner kept the door open to passing a bill that includes a path to citizenship. Asked explicitly whether blocking any legislation that doesn't have the support of a majority of House Republicans would block a path to citizenship or legal status, Boehner said, "No, I don't think so."

When asked a follow-up question about whether he believes House Republicans would be willing to support a path to citizenship or legal status, Boehner said, "Well, we're going to find out," suggesting that he plans to put his conference to the test. Earlier, Boehner had said he believes "a vast majority" of House Republicans believe it's important to "wrestle" with immigration reform, another sign that Boehner doesn't think immigration reform is dead.

If Boehner actually has the ability to lead House Republicans, those sorts of statements are hopeful signs. But so far, he's been unable to deliver more than a stream of platitudes about wanting a "step-by-step" process. Perhaps Boehner will actually be able to deliver something. If not, he really will deserve the title of being of the weakest House Speakers in American history.

Originally posted to The Jed Report on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 10:10 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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