By Dan Sewell, AP
MIDDLETOWN, Ohio–The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, John Boehner, said Thursday that allies of the United States want America to show strong leadership globally and that he wants some of his congressional colleagues to stop shying away from immigration reform.
Boehner said other countries are looking for the United States to lead, and that the 150 troops now in Poland with contingents planned for three other European countries is a step in the right direction. The first 150 paratroopers’ arrival Wednesday for joint exercises in Poland is considered a sign of President Barack Obama administration’s commitment to security in Europe, with tensions growing over the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
“They’re begging us to lead, and they want us to lead,” Boehner told a Middletown Rotary Club luncheon. “And I have to say I was pleased with the news late yesterday that the president is in fact sending … troops to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.”
Boehner said American leadership lets the world know “what the rules are,” and U.S. allies want more of it.
“When America’s not leading, when America’s not strong, the bad guys know they can stick their heads up with impunity,” Boehner said.
Boehner also expressed frustration Thursday with others in Congress he says are reluctant to tackle immigration reform to fix what he says is a broken system. Boehner mocked those he said lack an appetite for addressing needed changes.
“Here’s the attitude: `Oh, don’t make me do this. Oh, this is too hard,”’ an animated Boehner said in a whiny voice. He said some of his colleagues would rather take the path “of least resistance.”
“We get elected to solve problems,” Boehner added.
Boehner and other Republican leaders offered a set of immigration principles in January, but rank-and-file members balked at moving ahead. Boehner has blamed distrust of Obama for lack of movement on the legislation.
The issue is particularly touchy with midterm elections this year. Boehner has three Republican opponents in Ohio’s May 6 primary for the 8th District he first won in 1990.