House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) claimed on Thursday that Republicans in the House are unlikely to vote on immigration reform because President Obama released five Taliban-linked prisoners being held in Guantanamo Bay to secure the freedom of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The explanation is part of a long list of revolving excuses Republicans have used to justify their inaction on the issue.
“The president continues to ignore laws that he signed into law, violating his oath of office,” Boehner said during a press conference. “He did it again with the release of these Taliban Five and I reminded the president again yesterday that every time he does this, it makes it harder to gain the trust of our members to do the big things that need to be done around here.” Lawmakers from both parties have criticized the administration for failing to notify Congress about the release of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners, as required by law.
The GOP, however, has previously claimed that lawmakers can’t bring immigration reform to a vote in the House because HealthCare.gov was broken, the Mexican drug war was ongoing, sequestration forced Homeland Security to release some detainees, the Boston Marathon bomber was an immigrant and Obama’s refusal to negotiate during the shutdown hurt Republicans’ feelings.
Republicans leaders do offer rhetorical support for reforming the immigration system. Last month, Boehner claimed, “I do believe the vast majority of our members do want to deal with this” and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) — the leading candidate for House Majority Leader — told an interviewer in 2013 that immigration reform “is going to happen.” It’s unclear if the issue will come up for debate in the coming months.