CNN Senior Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh
Washington (CNN) – House Speaker John Boehner insisted Thursday that immigration reform was “absolutely not” dead – just a little over a week after declaring he had “no intention” of negotiating with the Democratic led Senate over its comprehensive immigration proposal.
Boehner told reporters at his weekly press conference he was “encouraged” by President Barack Obama’s comments earlier this week saying he was open to the House GOP’s plans to address immigration reforms in a series of smaller bills.
The President, speaking to a group of CEOs on Tuesday, said of House Republicans, “They’re suspicious of comprehensive bills, but if they want to chop that thing up into five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don’t care what it looks like as long as it’s actually delivering on those core values that we talk about.”
But Boehner declined to answer a question on when the House would vote on any of the piecemeal GOP immigration measures. A Boehner aide told CNN, “he didn’t make any specific announcement on timing.”
The House of Representatives is scheduled to be in session just eight more days before the end of the year, and aides from both parties do not expect the House to hold any votes until next year.
Even before the President stated he could accept moving reform in pieces, House Democratic leaders said as long as the Republican controlled House moved some type of immigration bill they believed larger negotiations could start. But Boehner’s spokesman said the Speaker’s opposition to discussing the Senate passed bill still stands.
That Senate measure, passed in June with some GOP support, includes an eventual pathway to citizenship for most of the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.
A group of immigration reform supporters is staging a fast on the National Mall not far from the Capitol that has lasted over a week to urge Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform now. House Democratic leaders invited five of those protesting to address some of their members Thursday morning, before the House leaves for another extended recess for the Thanksgiving holiday.
“We believe our Republican colleagues should hear the message ‘let’s act now.’ It is good for the economy,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra said.