House Speaker John Boehner warns President in person against an executive order
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus also blasts Obama on immigration reform
His stance a change from a 2012 RNC report saying reform is politically necessary
House Speaker John Boehner warned President Barack Obama in person Friday that signing an executive order overhauling immigration laws would spoil their chances of cooperating on other issues in the future.
Boehner, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and other congressional leaders met with Obama for a two-hour lunch at the White House, where Boehner repeated the warning he’d issued after Republicans seized control of both chambers in Tuesday’s midterm elections.
Sources said immigration reform was the focus of a 30-minute discussion during the lunch.
“The speaker warned that unilateral action by the president on executive amnesty will erase any chances of doing immigration reform and will also make it harder for Congress and the White House to work together successfully on other areas where there might otherwise be common ground,” Boehner’s office said of the lunch.
He and other congressional leaders didn’t talk to reporters as they left the White House. But the White House said in a readout of the lunch that Obama “reiterated his commitment to taking action on immigration reform in light of the House’s inability to pass a comprehensive bill.”
Obama had already repeated his pledge to sign an executive order on immigration in the coming months during a news conference this week – and Boehner and McConnell separately said doing so would “poison the well” and complicate the White House’s chances of getting Congress on board with any of its other goals.
Boehner’s message came the same day that Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that Obama’s “nuclear threat” of an executive order on immigration would cause the GOP to back away from supporting the type of comprehensive reform that he’d said looked key to the party’s survival just two years ago.
Priebus blasted Obama for politicizing the issue, saying he’s caused Republicans to lose interest in advancing a measure that would hand undocumented workers a pathway to citizenship before first improving security on the U.S. border with Mexico.
And he said Obama would be “throwing a barrel of kerosene” on already-inflamed tensions with congressional Republicans if he goes ahead with “executive amnesty.”
“What I think [Obama has] done is unify the country and the electorate around one big principle, and that’s that we need to secure the border,” Priebus said at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
“He has created a situation that I think may have not have existed before that episode that has galvanized the country [to] a place where I don’t believe most people are interested in comprehensive immigration reform unless they are convinced that the border is secure,” he said.
“And I think it’s because of the president’s haphazard political game that’s created an environment that will not allow the legislation to move forward unless people can be convinced that that border is secure. And that’s where we’ve come.”
Priebus’s stance was a departure from an RNC-commissioned “autopsy report” that came in the wake of Obama’s re-election in 2012. That report called on Republicans to support comprehensive immigration reform legislation, warning that otherwise, the party could alienate the rapidly-growing Hispanic electorate.
He said most Republicans agree that immigration reform ultimately must happen.
“However, what we’ve seen happen over the last several months is that the president has been using people as political pawns and lying to people when it comes to immigration reform,” Priebus said.