President Barack Obama will “poison the well” if he acts alone to change U.S. immigration policy, said House Speaker John Boehner.
“He’s going to burn himself if he continues to go down this path,” Boehner told reporters at a news conference in Washington. He spoke a day after Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican in line to be Senate majority leader, said executive action by Obama on immigration would be like “waving a red flag in front of a bull.”
Boehner’s party won at least 245 House of Representatives seats in this week’s election, giving Republicans their largest majority since World War II. The party also gained at least seven Senate seats, more than enough to take control of the chamber in January.
Obama yesterday repeated a promise to take action by the end of the year to halt deportations for some undocumented immigrants if Congress doesn’t move on rewriting the law.
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“What I’m not going to do is just wait,” the president said.
Boehner said that if Obama acts on his own, “he will poison the well and there will be no chance for immigration reform moving in this Congress.”
“When you play with matches, you run the risk of burning yourself,” he said.
The speaker also said the House will vote next year to repeal Obama’s health-care law, as it has numerous times in the past few years. The Democratic-led Senate didn’t take up the proposals, and Boehner noted they might not pass even a Republican-led Senate, where rules let the minority party block legislation.
Still, he said there is bipartisan support to make smaller changes in the law such as ending a tax on medical devices.
The speaker said the House will also act on jobs bills and legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, opposed by many Democrats.
Republicans’ command of Congress will let them set the legislative agenda for the final two years of Obama’s second term. It also might jeopardize Obama’s efforts to nominate judges and agency leaders, as well as to protect his legacy and signature achievements such as the Affordable Care Act.
Boehner and McConnell wrote an opinion article on the Wall Street Journal’s website yesterday saying they would work to repeal the health-care law and revive measures on jobs and the economy that weren’t approved by the Senate under the Democrats’ control.
McConnell told reporters yesterday that the Senate will use its power over federal spending to reduce government regulation and try to cut back parts of the health-care law. The Senate Banking Committee will consider revisions in the Dodd-Frank law enacted after the 2008 financial crisis, he said.
He said he and Obama spoke by phone yesterday about working on a tax-law revision and trade agreements.
Obama, speaking at a White House news conference yesterday, said he wanted to “find ways to work together” on issues such as tax changes to finance work on infrastructure.