By Justin Sink
The White House on Friday said there appeared to be "confusion" among House Republican leaders on the topic of comprehensive immigration reform, after Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) office moved to douse speculation the House could move on legislation.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said there had been "a variety of indications and counter-indications from within the House leadership itself" about its intention to move forward on immigration reform.
Earlier Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Boehner told donors in a closed-door Las Vegas fundraiser that he was "hellbent" on getting immigration legislation "done this year."
But a spokesman for the Speaker insisted the quote did not represent a shift for Republican leadership.
"Nothing has changed. As he's said many times, the Speaker believes step-by-step reform is important, but it won't happen until the president builds trust and demonstrates a commitment to the rule of law," Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said.
Boehner has said he is unable to convince his members to move forward with legislation because they don't trust the president to enforce border security and enforcement provisions. Boehner pointed to regulatory changes the administration has made to ObamaCare as evidence Obama is unwilling to enforce the laws as passed by Congress.
At the White House, Carney attributed the GOP's reluctance to "a great deal of internal conflict within the Republican Party on this issue."
"The politics of this are hard for the GOP because of opposition within the Republican base to immigration reform," he said.
Carney said that while Obama was "aware of these countervailing pressures" he remained "hopeful" a deal would be struck.
"There is an island of opposition within the House Republican conference to pursuing this, and that is unfortunate, given the kind of coalition that's been assembled here on behalf of reform," Carney said. "But the president believes there remains an opportunity here for the House to act and hopes that it does."