Boehner: Obama Playing With Matches on Immigration

Boehner: Obama Playing With Matches on Immigration

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - November 6, 2014

If Majority Leader-to-be Mitch McConnell struck a somewhat conciliatory tone in his post-election comments, House Speaker John Boehner was clearly more defiant toward President Obama in his remarks on Thursday.

For one, Boehner said the House -- which saw the GOP gain 13 seats on Tuesday, giving Republicans their biggest majority since 1930 -- would vote in the next Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “Whether it will pass the Senate, I don’t know. But in the House, it will pass,” he told reporters.

A repeal vote would give new members a chance to mark their territory on the law, which many of them campaigned against. But Obama, unsurprisingly, said Wednesday he wouldn’t sign a repeal bill. McConnell and others have talked of late about changing and fixing the law rather than repealing it. Still, the Republican Senate leader this week advocated, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed co-written by the speaker, gutting the ACA completely.

When asked whether such a vote would damage trust between Congress and the White House -- which leaders say they want to rebuild -- Boehner said voters made clear on Tuesday that they want to get rid of the health care law. "The president said, 'I listened to what happened on Tuesday.' I say, 'Really?’” Boehner mocked. "My job is to listen to the American public. And they made it clear they don’t like Obamacare. Just ask the Democratic candidates who lost.”

But it was on immigration that the speaker sounded most defiant. Boehner said the president would “poison the well” if he moved forward with his vow to take executive action easing deportations if Congress doesn’t act on reform legislation by the end of the year.

"I've made clear to the president that if he acts unilaterally on his own outside of his authority, he will poison the well and there will be no chance for immigration reform moving in this Congress,” Boehner said. “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 this path.”

Boehner repeated calls for Congress to work on immigration legislation, but did not explain what the House planned to do.

“Finding common ground is going to be hard work – but it will be even harder if the president isn’t willing to work with us,” Boehner warned.

Obama will meet with Boehner, McConnell and Democratic leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi at the White House on Friday to discuss the lame duck session ahead. Obama has already asked Congress for $6.2 billion in emergency funding to fight Ebola. Congress must also agree to a continuing budget resolution, as current funds will run out on Dec. 11. Lawmakers and the president will also talk about how to proceed on authorizing the fight against ISIL in Syria, an issue lawmakers left on the table before the elections.

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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