House Speaker John Boehner warned President Obama against executive orders on immigration
His remarks come amid many Republicans speaking out against the White House
Two days after the midterms, big fights are much easier to spot than areas of compromise
Republicans won back control of the Senate and increased their majority in the House
Two days after voters angry with Washington’s dysfunction swept Republicans into control of the Senate and expanded their advantage in the House, Speaker John Boehner used his first post-midterm news conference to issue a “burn” notice to the commander-in-chief.
“When you play with matches, you take the risk of burning yourself and he’s going to burn himself if he continues to go down that path,” the Ohio Republican told reporters on the Hill, when asked about President Barack Obama’s plans to issue executive orders on immigration before year’s end.
Just hours after Obama recommitted himself to staying the course on immigration orders and protecting his signature health care law, Republicans spent Thursday firing back shots at the administration, signaling that Tuesday’s midterms did little to quell partisan tension in Washington.
Republican National Committee members as well as GOP leaders on the Hill took the election results as a sign to dig in on their issues, and while both parties made reference to compromise, Thursday’s developments suggested more of the opposite was in store.
Two of the most powerful Republicans in Washington, Boehner and the expected next Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, outlined their priorities in writing, using an oped in the Wall Street Journal to showcase their 2015 priorities. Among them: Repealing Obamacare, authorizing construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and reforming the tax code.
The pair took shots at Democratic House and Senate leaders who shepherded most of Obama’s significant legislative achievements through Congress, saying they “won’t repeat the mistakes made when a different majority ran Congress in the first years of Barack Obama’s presidency, attempting to reshape large chunks of the nation’s economy with massive bills that few Americans have read and fewer understand.”
And in his press conference, Boehner said the House will likely vote again next year to repeal the Affordable Care Act – both in full and in separate chunks, like stripping away the medical device tax and the individual mandate.
And he warned that if Obama will “burn himself” if he overhauls the U.S. immigration system through executive order in the coming weeks – which president has pledged to do. Going ahead with those plans, Boehner said, will “poison the well” in the eyes of congressional Republicans.
It’s the same phrase Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell used Wednesday – indicating that a major fight is likely to come before the new Congress is even sworn in.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in his Thursday briefing that Obama is looking forward to meeting with GOP leaders and hearing their ideas.
“The good news though is that the deck has been reshuffled,” Earnest said. “There’s now a Republican majority in the Senate. There’s a Republican majority in the House. And you could understand how this might change the political calculation that Republicans make. Maybe they now see that it would be in their own personal political interest to try to find some common ground with the president.”
Obama himself repeated his plans for an executive overhaul of immigration laws during hid Wednesday news conference. But he also said he’d like to sit down for Kentucky bourbon with McConnell and telling voters – and those who stayed away from the polls Tuesday – that he heard their message.
Boehner, one of several Republicans to mention their mistrust of the President, said Thursday that he isn’t buying it. “The president said, ‘I listened to what happened Tuesday night,’” Boehner said before adding, with an incredulous grin: “Really?”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told CNN on Wednesday night that it’s “bizarre” to see Obama and his allies now looking for areas of compromise.
He pointed to Obama’s handling of immigration – the president had initially planned to take executive action over the summer, but deferred that move until after the midterm elections.
“I don’t believe a thing he says,” Priebus said when asked by CNN’s Erin Burnett about working with the president. “All he’s been doing for the last year is lying to Hispanic voters across the country.”
While McConnell’s ascendancy to the Senate majority leader’s post is all but assured and Boehner is staying on as speaker, Democrats have some leadership questions of their own to sort through after Tuesday’s devastating elections.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel told Newsday he won’t stay on for a third election – though he does want a seat at the House Democrats’ already-crowded leadership table.
The first look at the new political landscape will come later this month, when lawmakers return for leadership elections and the House is scheduled to vote on a series of Environmental Protection Agency regulatory bills.
In the coming weeks Congress will also take up Obama’s request for more than $6 billion in new Ebola-related funding, spending bills to fund the government and potentially legislation to authorize the use of military force against ISIS.