Did Valerie Jarrett Really Get a ‘Commitment’ From Boehner to Get Immigration Reform Done This Year?

Top White House adviser Valerie Jarrett clarified Friday that House Speaker John Boehner made a “commitment” to “trying” to pass comprehensive immigration reform, not that he had definitively committed to the White House to doing so.

Jarrett said her remarks reported by the Las Vegas Review Journal got “lost in translation.”

White House advisor Valerie Jarrett speaks following a screening of The Trip to Bountiful, a TV version of the Tony award-nominated Broadway revival of Horton Footes play on February 24, 2014 in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House in Washington. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
White House adviser Valerie Jarrett speaks on February 24, 2014. (Getty Images)

“I said Boehner has made [a] commitment to trying, not that he has made [a] commitment to us or [a] time frame,” Jarrett said on Twitter.

The newspaper reported Thursday that Jarrett told conference attendees in Las Vegas that Boehner would like to see immigration reform passed before the end of 2014, adding that both he and the White House expect stiff opposition from House members who align with the Tea Party. Jarrett said she was confident that the House speaker will bring up a bill — or a set of proposals — to see immigration reform moved along in Congress’ lower chamber, but likely not until after primary election season to avoid complicating GOP efforts.

“I think we have a window this summer, between now and August, to get something done,” Jarrett said, according to the Review Journal. “We have a commitment from Speaker Boehner, who’s very frustrated with his caucus.”

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told BuzzFeed on Friday that Republicans are “committed to reforming our immigration system.”

“But as the speaker has said repeatedly, it’s difficult to see how we make progress until the American people have faith that President Obama will enforce the law as written,” he said.

Jarrett also said Thursday that the economy could benefit by approximately $1.4 trillion over the next 20 years if Congress passes a bill, adding that law enforcement officials, technology communities and faith leaders all back the efforts.

“We haven’t been able to find that many people who aren’t in support of it,” Jarrett said, citing analysts who have predicted that an immigration bill would in fact pass the Republican-controlled House. “This is an opportunity that we should seize. … The Senate bill would pass today in the House.”

The White House, she said, is happy with either one bill or a set of bills — so long as the House passes immigration reform.

“There’s a lot of ways to skin a cat,” Jarrett said. “I feel very encouraged about immigration reform. I think you’re going to see mounting pressure.”

The Democratic-controlled Senate in 2013 passed the so-called “Gang of Eight” immigration bill, a massive piece of legislation that was doomed to fail in the Republican-controlled House.

House Speaker John Boehner Ohio listens as GOP leaders speak to reporters following a Republican strategy meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 29, 2014. (AP Photo)

“The strong bipartisan vote we took is going to send a message across the country, it’s going to send a message to the other end of the Capitol as well,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), one of the bill’s chief architects, said after the measure passed by a vote of 68-32. “The bill has generated a level of support that we believe will be impossible for the House to ignore.”

Boehner has made it no secret that he wants to see the House get on board with immigration reform. However, the House speaker has also made it clear that the lower chamber will only pass reform that members of his caucus find agreeable.

“The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes,” Boehner said last year after the Senate passed its bill. “We’re going to do our own bill, through regular order, and it’ll be legislation that reflects the will of our majority and the will of the American people.”

(H/T: Weasel Zippers)

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