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Obama to Host Boehner at White House as Immigration Looms

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 will host House Speaker John Boehner at the White House tomorrow for a closed-door meeting as lawmakers weigh the administration’s call to raise the minimum wage and revamp U.S. immigration law.

Boehner, an Ohio Republican, was invited by the president and they will discuss a broad range of topics, according to a Republican aide who asked not to be identified discussing the event ahead of time. The White House listed it on Obama’s official schedule tonight without providing further details.

The meeting will take place a week before Obama is to send his budget proposal for fiscal 2015 to Congress, where he’ll need support from House Republicans to advance his agenda. It comes ten days after the president signed into law a bill extending U.S. borrowing authority without conditions attached as many Republicans had demanded.

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

On immigration, prospects have begun to fade for action this year as Republicans say they want to avoid distractions from their focus on blaming Democrats for Obamacare. Boehner said earlier 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.”

Raising the minimum wage, a centerpiece of Obama’s effort to reduce income inequality, has also stirred objections from Republicans, including Boehner, who say that requiring employers to pay workers more will lead to lob losses. The increase is contained in legislation sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa and Representative George Miller of California, both Democrats, that Obama has urged Congress to pass.

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.

Boehner last month called the shutdown a “predictable disaster” and said Tea Party-affiliated Republicans ignored his warnings that shutting down the government over the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would backfire politically.

‘Good Relationship’

Following that fight, U.S. lawmakers in December passed a budget deal and then last month passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the federal government through Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

Boehner shrugged off calls to use the debt-limit legislation passed earlier this month to wrest concessions on other policy issues after at least four such plans failed to secure enough Republican votes.

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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