The test of success in the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner said Sunday, is how many laws are taken off the books.
"We should not be judged on how many new laws we create. We ought to be judged on how many laws that we repeal," the Ohio Republican told CBS' "Face the Nation."
"We've got more laws than the administration could ever enforce. And so we don't do commemorative bills on the floor, we don't do all that nonsense. We deal with what the American people want us to deal with."
That can be unpopular, Boehner conceded. "Why?" he asked. "We're in a divided government. We're fighting for what we believe in. Sometimes, you know, the American people don't like this mess.
"It's not about me. It's not about what I want. What I'm -- what I've 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."
Boehner talked about his leadership style, which involves letter the House work its will.
"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 is to -- 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 and where they can see us moving in a deliberative, step-by-step, commonsense way."
He also discussed immigration. The House does not plan to take up the legislation passed last month by the Senate, which would provide a 13-year path for citizenship for most undocumented immigrants.
"I think we all recognize that immigration reform has to be dealt with. And while we have a lot of different opinions about how to get there and what to do, I do think it's an issue that has to be dealt with," he said.
He noted that he hasn't changed his style. "The mission I came here with as a small-business man 23 years ago is still my mission, to fight for a smaller, less costly and more accountable federal government; to empower the private sector to be all that it can be, to create jobs for our kids and our grandkids.
"That's what drives me every day. And I know people from the outside look in and go, my, how can he put up with all of this nonsense. But I don't look at it that way. I stay focused on the mission I came here with, and it's still the mission I have."