House Speaker John Boehner dampened prospects for immigration reform this year, blaming a lack of “trust” between the White House and Republicans.
“There’s widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws,” he said Thursday in a briefing with reporters. “And it’s going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes.”
But the GOP leader did not say what rebuilding that trust might entail.
Boehner said he would continue speaking to members of his conference about how to move forward with legislation but that the president’s new focus on using executive action to accomplish his goals has undermined his push for immigration reform.
“The president’s asking us to move one of the biggest bills of his presidency, and yet he’s shown very little willingness to work with us on the smallest of things,” he said.
A senior GOP aide disputed the idea that immigration reform is effectively dead for the year.
"The Speaker simply outlined the obstacles we face, which are formidable," the aide said.
Boehner’s tough talk echoes concerns voiced by rank-and-file members after Republicans unveiled their “principles” for immigration reform last week. While GOP leaders say they want to get immigration reform done, many Republicans are loathe to offer the White House much leeway on immigration provisions that they say would benefit Democrats at the ballot.
Rep. Paul Ryan,R-Wis., voiced similar concern on Sunday, saying that passage of reform legislation is "clearly in doubt" because of lack of faith in the president.
The Republican leader is also in the process of navigating a debt ceiling hike – something that his members hope to use to extract concessions from the White House.
White House press secretary Jay Carney maintained Thursday that the Obama administration remains "optimistic" that legislation can be completed this year.
And top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer suggested that Boehner may simply be strategizing amid other ongoing negotiations.
"For all we know he is sending a message on immigration to help pass debt ceiling," he said.