Updated 5:26 p.m. | John A. Boehner in a closed-door meeting with Republicans Tuesday morning apologized for comments over the recess that some in the GOP Conference perceived as mocking opponents of comprehensive immigration overhaul — and the speaker reassured lawmakers there is no conspiracy to bring up such a bill over their objections.
Boehner said he meant to make a joke, but not at his members' expense, when he flippantly noted at a Rotary Club meeting in his district last week that some Republicans are reluctant to consider an immigration rewrite.
At a press conference after the meeting, Boehner told reporters the same thing.
"There was no mocking," Boehner said. "Listen, you all know me. You tease the ones you love. But some people misunderstood what I had to say. And I wanted to make sure that members understood that the biggest impediment we have in moving immigration reform forward is [the president]. "It's the truth," he said, "and our members know the truth. ... The president has to take action himself. He's gotta show the American people and show the Congress he can be trusted to implement the law."
Boehner also told his members in the Tuesday meeting that there is no "conspiracy" to bring an immigration bill to the House floor despite their objections, and reiterated that under no circumstances would he go to conference with the Senate on their version of an immigration bill, which they passed last year.
Boehner reiterated at the press conference that he is continuing to discuss a path forward on immigration overhaul legislation with his members but wouldn't lay out specifics of those conversations, or confirm that there was any timeline in place or specific bill, or bills, under consideration.
"We continue to work with our members," he said. "We all know we have a broken immigration system."
Later in the day on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was asked by reporters to weigh in on Boehner's remarks; Reid said it was unclear what his House-side counterpart was implying in his discussion of moving ahead on immigration: "So does he know what he means?"
"I'm glad he's complaining about his members for a change," Reid said, "and I don't have to."
Humberto Sanchez contributed to this report.
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