CAPITOL HILL —
After a sweeping victory on Election Day, Republican House Speaker John Boehner took a hard line on the next Congress’ agenda and quelled any talk of compromise with Democratic President Barack Obama, using strong language to warn the president he would “get burned” if he took unilateral action on immigration reform. It appears the new Congress, with both chambers controlled by Republicans starting in January, may be on a collision course with the president.
Boosted by the prospect of having the biggest Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in 80 years, Speaker Boehner appeared tough at a news conference Thursday, vowing to hold another vote to repeal the president’s signature health care reform law when the new Congress is sworn in next year. The Republican-led House has already voted to repeal, delay or dismantle the Affordable Care Act - also known as “Obamacare” more than 50 times.
Boehner also warned the president not to take executive action on immigration reform.
“When you play with matches, you take the risk of burning yourself, and he [President Obama] is going to burn himself if he continues to go down this path. The American people made clear on Election Day they want to get things done, and they do not want the president to act on a unilateral basis," said Boehner.
The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill more than one year ago, but the House has not brought an immigration bill to the floor for a vote. Speaking to reporters Wednesday, President Obama warned his patience is wearing thin waiting for Congress to fix what many call the "broken" U.S. immigration system.
"So before the end of the year, we are going to take whatever lawful actions that I can take that I believe will improve the functioning of our immigration system that will allow us to surge additional resources to the border," said President Obama.
Pro-immigration reform lawmakers and activists are putting pressure on President Obama to take bold executive action to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants, after the president delayed any action until after this week’s elections. Labor leader Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, told reporters the House had had more than enough time to act on immigration.
“When given a chance to fix it, Republican extremists refused; now the president must act," said Trumka.
The president is meeting with 16 congressional leaders Friday at the White House to discuss the new political realities after the election, and to try to find some common ground to get things done.