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John Boehner Backs House Action on Immigration

Speaker John Boehner signaled today that he would push an immigration overhaul in the next Congress.

“A comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself, others can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all,” the Ohio Republican told ABC News.

Obama issued an executive order in June that halted deportation proceedings for many illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children.

Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) are talking up the prospects of immigration legislation after an election that saw a surge in the size of the Latino electorate. Reid said Wednesday that an immigration measure would be among his top priorities in the 113th Congress.

Boehner also addressed the status of the 2010 health care overhaul, calling it “the law of the land” in an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer when asked about taking another shot at repealing Obama’s signature legislative victory, but he also suggested that efforts to attack the law at the margins would continue.

Boehner’s “law of the land” statement was a simple acknowledgement of mathematical and political reality. With Obama in the White House and Democrats controlling the Senate floor schedule, there is no chance a House-passed repeal would fare any better than the two that the chamber passed in the 112th Congress. Boehner’s office was quick to clarify that the House GOP still wants to repeal the law.

Efforts to nip at parts of the law look more likely, however. In a letter sent to Republican colleagues today, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) included elimination of the Independent Payment Advisory Board on a list of items that he thought Senate Democrats might not block.

“There certainly may be parts of it that we believe need to be changed. We may do that. No decisions at this point,” Boehner said.

He also stressed that during the negotiations about the fiscal situation, “everything has to be on the table,” while saying the House will not accept higher tax rates as part of a deficit reduction package or in legislation to avert the year-end confluence of expiring tax policies and automatic spending cuts known as the “fiscal cliff.”

As part of a concerted effort to emphasis his interest in a big deal, Boehner made the same point in interviews with ABC News and USA Today that he made Wednesday in a speech at the Capitol. Boehner also plans a Friday morning news conference.

“I don’t want to be Speaker because I needed this big, fancy office, a big title. I wanted to be Speaker so I could lead an effort to do the right things for our country. And this idea that we continue to spend money that we don’t have is anathema to everything I believe in,” Boehner told USA Today.

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