Boehner cites ObamaCare in immigration warning

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday raised the specter of the polarizing 2010 healthcare overhaul to warn that immigration reform must have “broad bipartisan support” to pass Congress.

“In my view, anything as far-reaching, as complex and as permanent as immigration reform should not be enacted without broad bipartisan support,” Boehner said Thursday at his weekly Capitol press conference. “Every day as ObamaCare is being implemented, Americans are reminded of what happens when we have big legislation rammed through Congress with minimal support.”

Democrats passed the healthcare law in 2010 without any Republican support, and polls show the public remains divided on the law three years later.

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“Americans’ confidence in government is near an all-time low,” he said. “So if immigration reform is going to work, it is essential that we have the confidence of the American people and that it’s done the right way.”

Seeking to tamp down a conservative revolt, the Speaker has stressed in recent days that he would not bring an immigration overhaul to the floor if it lacked majority support from Republicans. He has criticized the border security provisions in the Senate bill as weak, but he again Thursday refused to draw a line on a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants or whether specific border triggers would need to be in place before legal status is granted.

“My job isn’t to try to impose my will on 434 other members,” Boehner said. “My job is to try to facilitate a discussion and build bipartisan support for a product that will address this broken immigration system that we have.”

The Speaker said he had not seen the details of a Republican amendment aimed at boosting the border security measures in the Senate bill. He said only that Congress and the public must have confidence that border security passes a “straight-face test” to win approval.

The Congressional Budget Office projected that the Senate bill would reduce the deficit by $700 billion over the next two decades. Asked about the score, Boehner said he had asked the GOP budget chief, Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), to analyze the report, but he spoke positively about its findings.

“I want to get to the bottom of it, because if these numbers are anywhere close to being accurate, it would be a real boon for the country,” Boehner said.