Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told House Republicans that the immigration blueprint his leadership team released on Thursday was “as far as we are willing to go” to make reform happen, according to a source in the room.
The blueprint supports legal status for undocumented immigrants, which is already further than many conservatives want to go. If Democrats demand the promise of citizenship for people living in the U.S. illegally, as the bill passed by the Senate would do, the Speaker said the House would block reform.
“These standards are as far as we are willing to go,” Boehner told Republicans on Thursday afternoon at their annual retreat in Cambridge, MD, according to the source. “Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that for her caucus, it is a special path to citizenship or nothing. If Democrats insist on that, then we are not going to get anywhere this year.”
He made a plea to members to support legislation that reflects those principles, describing them as a “fair, principled way for us to solve this issue,” and asked for their input to improve them. He excoriated the Senate-passed overhaul as “massive” and “flawed” and promised that the House won’t negotiate on it.
“If you have good ideas for improving these standards, we want to hear it,” Boehner told his members. “The rest of the leaders and I want your feedback.”
The White House and top Democrats welcomed the GOP’s move as a step forward in the debate, indicating that they’re willing to work with the contours of the blueprint.
“The President’s principles on immigration reform are well established,” a White House official told TPM. “We welcome the process moving forward in the House, and we look forward to working with all parties to make immigration reform a reality.”