Boehner to Obama: You're damaging the presidency

John Boehner promised action from the House earlier today in response to Barack Obama’s challenge on immigration — but not the kind of action Obama wanted. In a short press conference, Boehner accused Obama of “damaging the presidency” through illegitimate executive declarations, and that “the people’s House” will act to curtail his abuse of power:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) vowed Friday to confront President Obama’s unilateral executive actions to protect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, saying the moves were “damaging the presidency” and warning that Congress will not let them stand without a fight.

“The House will, in fact, act,” he said. …

“He created an environment where the members could not trust him, and trying to find a way to work together was virtually impossible, and I had warned the president over and over that his actions were making it impossible for me to do what he wanted me to do,” the speaker said, explaining his inability to even consider smaller pieces of the 2013 Senate-approved legislation that revamped border and immigration laws.

“We have a broken immigration system, and the American people expect us to work together to fix it, and we ought to do it through the democratic process,” he said.

On the lack of progress of the comprehensive immigration bill that Obama cited as a predicate for his actions, Boehner said Obama had no one to blame but himself. Dozens of unilateral actions on ObamaCare in contravention of the law as written destroyed any trust that he would follow any provisions in an immigration package designed to handle border security, Boehner argued.

“As I warned the President,” Boehner said at the start of his statement, “you can’t ask the elected representatives of the people to trust you to enforce the law if you’re constantly demonstrated that you can’t be trusted to enforce the law. The President never listened.” During the brief exchange with the press, one reporter asked Boehner whether the House was the bigger problem, at which point Boehner brought up ObamaCare. “The President made 38 unilateral to the Affordable Care Act,” Boehner replied. “The President repeatedly suggested that he was going to unilaterally change immigration law, and he created an environment where the members would not trust him. And trying to find a way to work together was virtually impossible.”

One Boehner ally used a colorful metaphor for the damage Obama has done to Washington:

“What did the president do? He pulled the pin on the grenade two weeks after the election,” said Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, a Boehner ally. “I don’t think anybody knows or can predict what happens and the carnage that this creates quite frankly for the legislative process.”

ABC News takes a pessimistic view of Boehner’s options:

But Republicans have few good options as they scramble for a solution that satisfies irate conservatives without alienating moderates, Hispanics and other voters who will be crucial for the 2016 presidential election. Possibilities include suing Obama or trying to fight his moves through the budget process.

The situation poses a major challenge for Boehner and incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., barely two weeks after midterm election victories that handed Republicans control of the Senate and increased the party’s majority in the House.

They have a few good options, actually. They can sit on Obama’s appointments for a long while, for one thing, which Democrats will be helpless to stop. More to the issue, they can pass a tough border-security bill as I suggested earlier and force Obama to veto it, and vulnerable Democrats to sustain a veto on a popular component of immigration reform. As the border gets rushed by people looking to take advantage of the situation, Republicans can lay the entire blame on Obama and his half-baked amnesty plan. None of these are perfect, but with control of Congress, the GOP has better options in January than they do right now.