Obama Hosts Boehner in Discussing Immigration, Trade

U.S. President Barack Obama & House Speaker John Boehner
U.S. President Barack Obama, left, and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, attend a memorial service for former House Speaker Tom Foley in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 29, 2013. Photographer: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met at the White House today as lawmakers weigh the administration’s call to revamp U.S. immigration law.

Boehner, an Ohio Republican, deflected most questions on the meeting as he walked back into the Capitol. “It was just fine,” he said, without giving details.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the two met for about an hour and discussed issues including immigration, trade promotion authority and California drought relief.

A Boehner aide, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe the private conversation, said other matters they discussed included manufacturing, flood insurance, the president’s health-care law, Afghanistan, the appropriations process, wildfire suppression and the highway bill.

Boehner and Obama agreed it is important to work together on issues where they find common ground, the Boehner aide said.

The meeting took place a week before Obama is set to send his budget proposal for fiscal 2015 to Congress, where he’ll need support from House Republicans to advance his agenda.

With increases in the U.S. debt limit cleared from policy makers’ agenda until next year, Obama can focus on issues outlined in his Jan. 28 State of the Union address, including revising U.S. immigration law and increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from $7.25, where it has been since 2009.

Prospects have begun to fade for action this year on an immigration revamp as Republicans say they want to avoid distractions from their focus on seeking to change Obamacare. Boehner said this month it will be tough to pass immigration legislation this year because fellow Republicans don’t trust Obama, whose term ends in 2017, to enforce the changes.

‘Widespread Doubt’

“There’s widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws,” he told reporters in Washington on Feb. 6. “It’s going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes.”

Boehner and Obama met at the White House in October with other congressional leaders during a 16-day partial government shutdown to discuss the spending impasse that halted operations at federal agencies.

The speaker, in an interview on NBC’s “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in January, said he and Obama have “a very good working relationship.”

“We get along fine, but, you know, we come at this at our jobs from a very different perspective,” Boehner said in the interview aired days before Obama’s State of the Union speech.

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