On Friday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), and Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) should “seize” the moment on amnesty legislation and lead Republicans in passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill this year.
Carney’s comments came a day after Valerie Jarrett, President Barack Obama’s top confidant and adviser, told an invitation-only conference in Las Vegas Thursday that she had received a “commitment” from Boehner on amnesty legislation. On Friday, Boehner’s office disputed Jarrett’s claim, which Jarrett immediately walked back on Twitter, saying her remarks were “lost in translation,” even though the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that, based on her remarks, “Jarrett believes Boehner will allow a comprehensive immigration reform bill, or a package of bills, to come up for a vote after the primary election to avoid spoiling some GOP candidates’ chances.”
During Friday’s press briefing at the White House, Carney, in response to Jarrett’s remarks, said that Boehner and other pro-amnesty Republicans have “all expressed deep interest in moving forward on immigration reform.” He said the White House has “found those comments and that interest to be encouraging and indicative of some movement” and “support for comprehensive immigration reform.”
Carney, calling on the House to pass the Senate’s amnesty bill that the Congressional Budget Office determined would lower the wages of American workers, said that the opportunity to pass sweeping immigration reform is something that is “very rare” and “we ought to seize it.”
After refusing to speculate about what executive actions Obama may enact after Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson indicated Thursday that the administration was close to easing more deportations and revising the Secure Communities program, Carney said he hopes that “Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor, Chairman Ryan and others hear all the voices of support for comprehensive immigration reform and move forward with it.”
“The opportunity is there for the taking,” Carney said before indicating that he hoped Republican leaders would “avail themselves” of it.
Boehner has previously said that he would be “hellbent” on getting amnesty legislation done this year, while Republican leaders like House Conference Chair Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) have floated an August deadline. So did Obama, when he indicated this week that there were “two to three months” left in the year to pass amnesty legislation. Pro-amnesty Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) have said that this year would be the last chance for sweeping amnesty legislation, and the CEOs of the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers said earlier this week that the “final act” of this Congress in the lame-duck session could be amnesty legislation if Congress does not act by August.