President Barack Obama defended his immigration actions on ABC’s This Week, in an interview that aired Sunday morning.

Speaking to host George Stephanopoulos, Obama said that his actions were both legally valid and politically justified by congressional inaction. He reiterated his request for a comprehensive reform bill in the face of Republican criticisms.

“My response is pass a bill,” the president said. “You heard me out there today and you heard me yesterday. The truth is the Senate did a good job in crafting a bipartisan bill that would have greatly improved our immigration system, and my preference is for a legislative solution to this problem.”

Obama placed the blame for that Senate bill’s failure squarely on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), but left the door open for revisiting it or creating an alternative.

“It didn’t happen because the Speaker would not call the bill for a vote in the House. And he still has several weeks to call that bill in the House or he can work with me and Democrats to craft a new bill.”

Stephanopoulos pressed Obama on the question of his legal authority for his immigration actions, noting that the president himself had previously said “I’m not an emperor, I am out of administrative flexibility.”

Obama responded that while it “is absolutely true that we couldn’t solve the entire problem and still can’t solve the entire problem,” he does have the law and precedent on his side.

“But what we can do is to prioritize felons, criminals, recent arrivals, folks who are coming right at the border, and acknowledge that if somebody’s been here for over five years, they may have an American child or a legal permanent resident child it doesn’t make sense for us to prioritize them when we know that we need more resources,” Obama said.

Obama also said that his immigration actions relied on a substantial body of presidential precedent as well as the concept of “prosecutorial discretion.” The president said that, like his predecessors and law enforcement agencies across the country, he was only reorganizing priorities of immigration officials and not rewriting the law. That would require Congress to pass a bill.

When Stephanopoulos asked if Obama agreed that a future Republican president could hypothetically use the same argument to avoid collecting certain taxes he or she disagreed with, Obama said the two cases were completely different. And, he added, the Internal Revenue Service already does not audit every taxpayer.

Well, the truth of the matter is, George, that the reason that we have to do prosecutorial discretion in immigration is that we know we are not even close to being able to deal with the folks who have been here a long time. The vast majority of folks understand that they need to pay taxes, and when we conduct an audit, for example, we are selecting those folks who are most likely to be cheating. We’re not going after millions and millions of people who everybody knows are here and were taking advantage of low wages as they’re mowing lawns or cleaning out bedpans, and looking the other way – but then you got politicians suddenly going out there saying, suggesting somehow that we should be deporting all of them. Everybody knows, including Republicans, that we’re not going to deport 11 million people.

“What is true today is we don’t audit every single person,” Obama added, “but we still expect that people are going to go ahead and follow the law.”

Republicans have been divided over how to respond to the president’s actions, with some demanding a strong rebuke of Obama’s immigration executive orders and others counseling caution to avoid political problems for the party ahead of the 2016 presidential elections. Boehner said on Friday that Obama was “damaging the presidency itself” with his actions.

Despite his immigration actions, President Obama denied in his “This Week” interview that his view of executive power has changed.

“It actually hasn’t. The history is that I have issued fewer executive actions than most of my predecessors, by a longshot,” Obama said. “The difference is the response of Congress.”