The economy is more important than immigration at the moment, said House Speaker John A. Boehner over the weekend.
The Republican Congressman’s comments, in a television interview, are significant because they came as the House, where the Republicans hold a majority, now are in a position to halt comprehensive immigration reform.
Boehner said in an interview with CBS' "Face the Nation" that the economy must get moving again and that this would only happen by stopping unnecessary regulations and bringing the federal deficit under control.
Describing "this new normal of slow economic growth, no increase in jobs that are available, wages are being basically frozen," Boehner said: "We're squeezing the middle class. And I would argue the president's policies are getting in the way of the economy growing, whether it's Obamacare, whether it's all these needless regulations that are coming out of the government."
The speaker, who is from Ohio, would not directly address his personal view on whether comprehensive immigration view should include a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants.
A bipartisan Senate bill that passed in late June included tighter enforcement, expanded visas for foreign workers and a path to legal status for many of the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.
But many conservative Republicans in the House vehemently opposed giving a break to undocumented immigrants, and denounce it as amnesty.
They maintain that allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States is tantamount to rewarding lawbreakers and would encourage more illegal immigration.
Those who support a path to legal status argue that the nation cannot deport all undocumented immigrants and that something must be done to bring them out of the shadows.
Boehner has often said that the House will not rubber-stamp the Senate measure.
Instead, he said he intends to deal with the issue on a piecemeal basis.
"It's not about me, it's not about what I want," said Boehner. "This about allowing the House to work its will."
Boehner has said in recent days that he supports allowing undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors a chance to legalize their status.
On Tuesday, the House will hold a hearing on a measure that would offer legal status to those immigrants.
“This is about basic fairness,” Boehner said during a news conference last week. “These children were brought here on no accord of their own and frankly, they are in a very difficult position.”
The proposed legislation is being drafted by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, both from Virginia. It will form part of the House's piecemeal approach to immigration reform.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.