House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) charged this week that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Republicans are "inventing excuses" to ignore comprehensive immigration reform this year.
Boehner on Thursday suggested that Republicans are reluctant to push hard for an immigration overhaul out of distrust for the Obama administration's implementation of such reforms.
"Republicans are busy inventing excuses to fail instead of reasons to act," Pelosi said Friday in a statement. "Speaker Boehner’s feeble attempt yesterday to blame President Obama is an abandonment of our Constitutional responsibility to legislate for the good of the American people."
The comments arrive roughly a week after Republican leaders unveiled a series of immigration "principles" designed to set the parameters of the House debate, but also aimed to unite the conservative GOP conference around an issue that's splintered it for years.
Although Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee have passed a series of bills through the panel this Congress, Boehner has declined to bring them to the floor, not least because his right flank opposes action on any legislation that could lead to a conference with the more liberal Senate-passed bill.
Speaking to reporters in the Capitol this week, Boehner downplayed that division, saying House Republicans "by and large support" the GOP principles. But he also suggested he's in no hurry to act quickly on legislation — as reform supporters have urged — and he blamed Obama for slowing the pace.
"The American people, including many of my members, don't trust that the reform that we're talking about will be implemented as it was intended to be," Boehner said.
"We are going to continue to discuss this issue with our members," he added. "But I think the president's gonna have to demonstrate to the American people and to my colleagues that he can be trusted to enforce the law as it is written."
But Pelosi is rejecting that argument outright, saying Boehner has simply caved to the Tea Party wing of his conference at the expense of the economy and the immigrants who would benefit from an overhaul of immigration policies that all sides consider flawed.
“Republicans should be candid about putting extremism ahead of the good of the country," she charged. "I hope that Speaker Boehner will overcome the dereliction of duty that is holding back his party and our nation, and seize this opportunity to work to enact the bipartisan immigration reform the American people need and deserve.”