In his weekly news conference on Thursday, Speaker of the House John Boehner threw cold water on the idea that any immigration reform legislation might pass Congress this year, citing the GOP's lack of trust in the Obama adminstration and all but acknowledged that there would be another "do-nothing" Congress in 2014.
Boehner's comments come just a week after the House GOP leadership unveiled its "principles" on immigration reform to great fanfare at their annual retreat in Cambridge, Maryland. While the House Speaker insisted that he "never underestimated the difficulty in moving forward this year," his statement comes just days after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Tuesday that he didn't see how the House and Senate could resolve their differences on immigration reform in 2014.
The Democratic controlled Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill last summer by a significant bipartisan margin but immigration legislation has stalled in the House, where many Republicans reamin steadfastly opposed to any bill that would allow for "amnesty" for the approximately 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the United States.
Immigration reform has long been one of Boehner's priorities and a concern of many business-oriented Republicans who see it as necessary for the GOP to win Hispanic voters in the future. In contrast, many conservatives see immigration reform as rewarding lawbreakers who have illegally entered the country and are skeptical of any political benefits.
While it was unlikely that immigration reform legislation would be passed this year, it's surprising that Boehner essentially punted on this major policy initiative so early in the year. This has long been considered by both parties as one of the most important issues that Congress needs to address. But, by admitted it won't happen the House Speaker seemed to concede that little legislation of consquence would stand any chance being enacted. He cited a renewal of the Medicare "doc fix" and flood insurance legislation as among the few bills that might pass both the House and the Senate.