"Bob, we have a broken immigration system. The legal immigration system's broken, we have a problem with 11 million people who are here without documents, 40 percent of them, by the way, came here as legal immigrants,” Boehner said when first asked by the CBS host.
“So we've got a very big problem," he went on. "And what I've committed is that one, the House does not like the Senate bill. It's one big, massive bill that in my opinion doesn't have enough serious triggers to protect our border.”
Schieffer wasn't satisfied with that response, finally saying, " “Are you not going to answer that question?”
Boehner responded, “It is not about me… This is about allowing the House to work its will.
“I'm not going to predict what's going to be on the floor and what isn't going to be on the floor. And that's what you're asking me to do. I can't do that. And I don't want to do that," the House Speaker continued. "My job in this process is to facilitate a discussion and to facilitate a process, so the American people can see what we're doing and so the members understand that we're dealing with this in a deliberative way.”
Schieffer asked one last time, “Do you, Mr. Speaker, yourself personally favor a bill that has a path to citizenship for those 11 million?”
Boehner said: “It's not about me. It's not about what I want. What I committed to when I became speaker was to a more open and fair process. And as difficult as this issue is, me taking a hard position for or against some of these issues will make it harder for us to get a bill."
"If I come out and say, 'I'm for this and I'm for that,' all I'm doing is making my job harder,' he said. "My job as the leader of the House is to facilitate this conversation and this process that involves members on both sides of the aisle, involves the American people."
The Senate passed an immigration bill late last month that includes a pathway to citizenship, something that seems like a non-starter in the GOP controlled House. But in fact there are some House Republicans who do support such a bill. Combined with Democratic support, it's conceivable that the Senate bill could pass the House. But that could only happen if the House crafted such a bill that Boehner allowed it to come to the floor.
The National Journal released a poll on Friday (done in conjunction with United Technologies) that showed that 59 percent of Americans said they would like to see the House either pass the Senate’s immigration bill as is or pass a version with even tougher border-control measures.
Meanwhile Boehner's House of Representatives voted for the 39th time last week on a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
"This program isn't ready," he said. "This is not good for the country, and we're going to stay at it."