Republicans quickly slammed President Barack Obama's attack on the GOP for not working with him to solve the illegal immigration crisis and his threat to use executive action to address the debacle, possibly while Congress is in recess this month.
"He's looking for a reason to take unilateral action before the election," Texas Rep. Steve Stockman told Newsmax. "This was to set off alarm bells among Democrats — and I'm sure behind closed doors, they're complaining about how he's messed this immigration stuff up.
"He's going to declare, unilaterally, an executive order," Stockman added. "Unfortunately, that's going to happen, and Republicans are going to be left twisting in the wind."
Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said Obama has been "completely AWOL" on the immigration issue. "In fact, he has made matters worse by flip-flopping on the 2008 law that fueled the crisis."
Steel was referring to the Wilberforce law that was intended to protect victims of human trafficking, but has made it more difficult for the United States to quickly deport illegal minors from Central American countries.
Obama had said that he would be willing to consider modifying the law. He soon reversed course after heavy criticism by members of his own party.
"Senate Democrats have left town without acting on his request for a border supplemental," Steel said. "Right now, House Republicans are the only ones still working to address this crisis."
In the nearly hourlong session at the White House, Obama blasted House Republicans
for working to pass what he called an "extreme and unworkable bill" to pay for the border crisis that neither he nor the Democratic-controlled Senate would support.
"House Republicans, as we speak, are trying to pass the most extreme and unworkable version of a bill that they already know is going nowhere, that can’t pass the Senate," Obama said.
"They’re not even trying to solve the problem," he added. "This is a message bill … just so they can check a box before leaving town tomorrow."
Obama said that he will have to make "tough choices" himself on immigration while Congress is on its five-week recess. He alluded to executive action under consideration to deal with the issue.
"The challenge I have right now is that they are not able to act even on what they say their priorities are," Obama said. "They are not able to work and compromise, even with Senate Republicans.
"That means that while they're out on vacation, I'm going to have to make some tough choices to meet the challenge, with or without Congress."
The president's remarks came as House Republicans scrambled to prepare a new border funding bill that would add more money for border security and address other issues that had worried conservatives.
Boehner pulled a $659 million bill on Thursday after conservatives charged that it lacked tougher security measures and a way to prevent Obama from expanding his 2012 executive order that spared the deportation of many illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.
The new bill would add $35 million for the National Guard and address the ways to deport as many as 500,000 of the illegals covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Deferrals program, which was created by the executive order.
The House is expected to vote on the $670 million bill later Friday.
On Thursday, Senate Republicans blocked a $2.7 billion spending bill, arguing that it was too costly and that it would not be effective in stopping the deluge of children migrating to the United States from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.
The Senate began its recess on Friday.
Between last Oct. 1 and June 15, more than 57,000 illegal minors have been detained at the South Texas border after the crossing the Rio Grande River from Mexico. The figure is double the total from the same period the previous year.
The Obama administration now estimates that as many as 90,000 could be apprehended by the end of September.
While the president lobbed his harshest words yet at Republicans on the border crisis, several House members hit back just as severely — telling Newsmax that the president is pushing amnesty without securing the border.
"He might have a pen and a phone, but we have the law," Michigan Rep. Kerry Bentivolio said. "We make the laws."
"The president isn't saying what is really happening," said Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino. "The president is saying that we do not want to work on immigration. He's saying that we agree on 80 percent of it.
"Well, we do not agree on 80 percent of it," Marino said, referring to the bipartisan Gang of Eight immigration bill passed last year by the Senate. "We don't agree on much of it.
"He's talking about working on a path that would make these people who are here illegally citizens. That is not going to happen. Any reasonable person will realize that if that happens with millions of these people, then what would prevent millions of other people from coming into the country thinking that the president will make us legal citizens."
Another Texas congressman, Rep. Joe Barton, said he supported the new border bill that the House is expected to vote on Friday night.
"There have been positive, productive discussions and meetings that have resulted in a more conservative, tightly worded piece of legislation," he told Newsmax. "This bill contains constructive directives to the president on how to secure the border, humanely treat the children already here, and expedite review of any new arrivals to quickly reunite these unaccompanied minors with loved ones back in their home countries.
"What isn’t in this legislative package is just as important. It doesn’t include a blank check for the president. In fact, the $670 million price tag is fully paid for and just a fraction of the $3.7 billion requested by the administration. It doesn’t include amnesty.
"We voted to stop Obama’s deferred action scheme," Barton added, referring to DACA, "and prevent him from declaring amnesty by executive order.
"I am confident that it will pass the House later today," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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