Boehner Vows to Fight ‘Tooth and Nail’ Against Executive Amnesty He Funded

Ali Meyer | January 8, 2015 | 1:27pm EST
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House Speaker John Boehner at his Jan. 8, 2015 briefing. (AP Photo)

( - House Speaker John Boehner (R.-Ohio) vowed today to fight “tooth and nail” against President Obama’s unilateral amnesty of up to five million illegal aliens—an amnesty the administration has been able to move forward with because Boehner’s House permitted funding of it.

The 1,603-page omnibus spending bill that Boehner pushed through a lame-duck Republican-controlled House last month put no prohibition on Obama using government funds to implement the amnesty. That omnibus funded almost all the government through the end of this fiscal year on Sept. 30 and the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 27.

“The House will soon take action aimed at stopping the president’s unilateral action when it comes to immigration,” Boehner said at his press briefing today. “Republicans are in agreement that this is a gravely serious matter.”

“The president's unilateral actions were an affront to the rule of law and our system of government,” Boehner said. “The American people don't support it and as their representatives we cannot let it stand.”

“I said we'd fight it tooth and nail when we had two majorities in the House and Senate and I meant it,” Boehner said. “What is at risk is the rule of law and the sanctity of America’s Constitution. The president has taken action that is beyond the scope of his ability and the Congress cannot just sit here and look the other way. We have to take action.”

Because last month’s omnibus put no restriction on Obama using money to implement his amnesty, the president is free to do so at this time. Had the Republican-controlled House attached language to last month’s omnibus prohibiting spending on the amnesty, Obama would have needed to shut down the entire government (by vetoing the bill) to try to force the Republican House to give him the money.

Now, the only funding bill the Republicans in Congress can use to stop Obama’s amnesty is the bill that will be needed to fund the Department of Homeland Security after Feb. 27. If the Republicans attach language to that bill prohibiting Obama from spending money to implement his amnesty, Obama will only need to shutdown DHS to try to force the Republicans to give him the money to implement it.

At his briefing, Boehner said he did not think the funding of DHS was "at risk" and said that Republicans wanted to fund the department.

A reporter asked: "Is this a wise time to be putting the budget of the Homeland Security Department at risk? The head of the department said it poses a real risk to have a continuing resolution without any certainty. Does he have any validity to his argument?"

"I don't believe that the funding of the department is in fact at risk," Boehner responded. "What is at risk is the rule of law and the sanctity of America's Constitution. The president has taken actions that are beyond the scope of his ability. And Congress cannot just sit here and look the other way. We have to take action, and we will."

The reporter, who made no mention of the fact that it would take a presidential veto to stop the DHS funding bill, followed up, saying: "Can you imagine something like this happening after 9/11 though. Given the attacks yesterday in Paris can you imagine the Homeland Security budget being up for debate a month after, or a day after, something like that happened here."

Boehner responded: "The issue isn't about funding the Department of Homeland Security. Members of Congress support funding the department. But we cannot continue to allow the president to go around the Congress and go around the law and take unilateral action as he has."

Another reporter asked if the House would "never pass a DHS funding bill that doesn't include some sort of provision" to stop Obama's unilateral amnesty.

"The House is going to work its will," Boehner said. "The way the process works is once the House works its will, the Senate will work its will. And then we have options. We can go to conference. We can take the Senate bill. There are a lot of options available to us. When we pass our bill, we'll see what the Senate can do with it and then we will act."

A third reporter asked if Boehner would allow an "open rule" on the DHS bill, which would let members freely offer amendments to the bill.

"I don't know what the Rules Committee will decide," Boehner said. "But I've got my doubts that it will be a truly open rule. But I do suspect that there will be amendments allowed."

If the Republicans pass a stand-alone bill to stop Obama’s amnesty, the president can simply veto that stand-alone bill. It would then take a two-thirds majority in both houses to enact it.

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