House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) warned Thursday that any attempt by President Barack Obama to ease U.S. immigration rules on his own would poison his relationship with Congress, which is already suffering from a severe lack of trust in the White House.
Boehner said the midterm elections show that voters don't want Obama to act unilaterally, as he's promised to do, and warned that such a move would be like playing with matches.
"When you play with matches, you take the risk of burning yourself," Boehner warned. "And he's gonna burn himself if he continues to go down this path. The American people made it clear on election day: they want to get things done, and they don't want the president acting on a unilateral basis."
On Wednesday, Obama seemed to ignore the huge GOP win on election day, and said he would move forward with some kind of executive action on immigration by the end of the year. The White House is thought to be considering changes that would let it expand the number of green cards available to immigrants and their families.
Obama also said he has already been patient long enough waiting for Congress to act.
“I think it’s fair to say that I’ve shown a lot of patience and have tried to work on a bipartisan basis as much as possible, and I’m going to keep on doing so,” he said.
Boehner said Obama's comments showed that he hasn't yet decided to work with Congress on the critical issue of immigration.
"Yesterday, we heard him say that he may double-down on his go-it-alone approach," Boehner said. "I've told the president before that he needs to put politics aside and rebuild trust."
"Finding common ground can be hard work. But it'll be even harder if the president isn't willing to work with us," he added.
Outside of immigration, Boehner said it is likely that the House will again pass a bill next year to repeal Obamacare, and see if the new GOP-led Senate can pass it. But he also said Republicans would try to pass smaller bills to repeal objectionable parts of the law.
Those parts include killing the medical device tax, ending the Independent Payment Advisory Board, and eliminating the individual mandate to buy health insurance. Boehner said there are bipartisan majorities in both chambers for passing those bills.
"We need to put them on the president's desk that let him choose," he said.
He also rejected the idea that Republicans would be poisoning their relationship with Obama by passing Obamacare bills, and said repeal measures are needed because the law is clearly hurting the economy.
Boehner and soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have outlined several issues they want to address next year. Boehner told reporters that Republicans want to fix the tax code, address the national debt, reform the legal system, make the government more accountable, and give parents more choices on education.
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