On Wednesday, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned President Obama that issuing an executive order on amnesty would be “waving a red flag in front of a bull.”
Today, House Speaker John Boehner used a different metaphor to send President Obama the same message: Don’t do what you’ve already threatened and promised to do. The speaker made his remarks in a press conference this afternoon.
A reporter sets Boehner up by framing the question in favor of Obama, asking “Mr. Speaker, you heard the president say he gave you a year waiting for you to deliver on immigration reform and that in this post-election period he’s ready to act and then he would pull back those executive orders if you can have legislation that works. Could that be a catalyst for you to actually get something done?”
Boenher replied, “No. I believe that the president continues to act on his own, he’s going to poison the well. When you play with matches, you take the risk of burning yourself. He’s going to burn himself if he continues to go down this path. The American people made it clear election day they want to get things done and they don’t want the president acting on a unilateral basis.”
The question is, if Obama does what he says he will do, what can Congress do? The last resort is always impeachment, and that is possible now that the Republicans hold the Senate. But despite Obama’s lawlessness, that remains a remote possibility.
Less drastic measures include defunding Obama’s ability to grant amnesty. Whatever decision the president makes, it will require some taxpayer-funded support from the federal infrastructure. Republicans could pass measures to defund that. Any such bill will require the president’s signature, which sets up a showdown over spending. Obama wants showdowns. That’s why he is threatening to use an executive order in the first place.
Obama is playing with matches, but he doesn’t fear burning himself. He wants to burn the GOP, and the constitutional checks on his power.