WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- The time is right for "common sense" immigration reform, House Speaker John Boehner said Friday, opening himself to conservative criticism.
"I'm not talking about [a] 3,000-page bill," Boehner said during a news conference. "What I'm talking about is a commonsense, step-by-step approach would secure our borders, allow us to enforce the laws, and fix a broken immigration system."
Pressed about whether he endorsed a pathway to citizenship, Boehner demurred, saying, "I'm not going to get into any of the details of how you would get there. It's just time to get the job done."
Boehner told ABC News Thursday immigration reform has been an issue that's been "around far too long ... a comprehensive approach is long overdue."
However, several conservative lawmakers have taken exception to Boehner's comments, The Hill reported Friday.
Rep. John Fleming, R-La., issued a statement Friday urging Boehner to "talk with House Republicans before making pledges on the national news."
Fleming said he was concerned Boehner may be "getting ahead of House Republicans when he commits to getting a 'comprehensive approach' to immigration taken care of 'once and for all.' There's been zero discussion of this issue within the conference."
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, one of the most conservative GOP members, also denounced offering citizenship to illegal immigrants, The Hill said.
"Obama voters chose dependency over liberty. Now establishment R's want citizenship for illegals. You can't beat Santa Claus with amnesty," King posted on his Twitter page Friday.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the party's 2008 presidential candidate, offered support for the speaker.
"I agree with the calls for comprehensive immigration reform," McCain said Friday on his Twitter account.