Speaker John A. Boehner said "the House will, in fact, act" to respond to President Barack Obama's sweeping immigration executive orders — but the Ohio Republican offered no details on the type, scale and scope of such action Friday morning.
In a 4-minute news conference outside his office, Boehner said the nation's immigration system is "broken," and "the American people expect us to work together to fix it.
"And we ought to do it in a Democratic process," he continued, "moving bills through the people's House, through the Senate and to the president's desk."
But Boehner also accused Obama of trying to "deliberately sabotage" the prospects for congressional action by issuing his executive orders and "making it impossible for me to do what he wanted me to do."
Boehner said, "I warned the president over and over again."
Republicans have said that with the House and Senate in their party's control in the 114th Congress, there is an opportunity to work on an overhaul without one chamber ideologically jamming the other.
In the short-term, during the lame-duck session, there there are different forms of action Boehner and his allies might take to answer Obama's executive actions, which were unveiled Thursday night . Republicans have spoken about adding an immigration component to their lawsuit against the president for his executive actions on the Affordable Care Act. Some have raised the prospect of impeachment.
House Republicans want to find a way to block the executive orders or defund them in the government spending bill that must be passed by Dec. 11 to avoid a government shutdown. Appropriators say there's no way to tie such language to a spending bill and would prompt a veto threat anyway.
Rather, they argue, it would be tantamount to legislating on an appropriations bill — which isn't allowed constitutionally — and it would not succeed in preventing the main agency responsible for implementing the executive actions, as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is funded through fees, not appropriations.
When asked whether he agreed with Republicans on the Appropriations Committee that that legislative gambit was untenable, Boehner would only say he was "working with our members, looking at all our options."
Though Boehner gave few hints as to what was in store, a spokesman for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., suggested the message was clear.
"Today, in the face of real leadership from the president, Speaker Boehner announced he will surrender his gavel to the most radical and irresponsible anti-immigrant voices of his party," Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said.
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