House Speaker John Boehner criticized the Obama administration’s immigration directive on familiar process-related grounds — having apparently forgotten that he’d quashed nearly all hope of getting the DREAM Act through Congress this year.
“It puts everyone in a difficult position,” Boehner complained at a press availability Tuesday, arguing that the administration’s unilateral move made reaching a bipartisan legislative solution more difficult.
But weeks ago, Boehner admitted that enacting DREAM-like legislation to provide legal status to certain unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children would be nearly impossible in this Congress.
“There’s always hope,” Boehner said in April. “I did talk to Senator Rubio about his idea, and he gave me some particulars about how this would work. I found it of interest. But the problem with this issue is that we’re operating in a very hostile political environment and to deal with a very difficult issue like this I think it would be difficult at best.”
Top Republicans, up to and including Mitt Romney, were flummoxed by the White House’s immigration announcement last week. Unable to embrace the new policy for fear of angering their conservative base, and unwilling to attack the decision on its merits for fear of further angering immigrant voters, Republicans have resorted to a very narrow critique: By short-circuiting Congress, and putting members in an awkward position, Obama’s made achieving a legislative solution more difficult.
That interpretation implies that a legislative solution was possible in absence of Obama’s action. Boehner’s April comments are a clear reminder that this was not the case.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.