Incoming House Majority Whip-elect Steve Scalise, R-La., Sunday blamed President Barack Obama for the ongoing border crisis, but would not directly answer whether the House will initiate impeachment proceedings if Obama takes executive action on the situation.
"This might be the first White House in history that's trying to start the narrative of impeaching their own president," Scalise told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace. "Ultimately, what we want to do is see the president follow the laws. The president took an oath to enforce the laws of this land, and he is not.
"The White House wants to talk about impeachment and they're trying to fundraise off that, too," Scalise said, insisting that the Obama administration will do "anything it can" to change the topic away from the president's failed agenda.
On Friday, White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer told reporters that Republicans might try to impeach Obama over his go-it-alone immigration strategy, as Obama prepared to talk about the U.S. border crisis with Central American presidents.
The executive actions on illegal immigration Obama will approve at the end of the summer will likely generate ire from Republicans who have blocked comprehensive immigration legislation, said Pfeiffer, one of the president's longest-serving advisers.
Ultimately, the matter of border security is Obama's responsibility, said Scalise, who was selected to replace Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy when McCarthy was elected to replace outgoing Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., after Cantor's stunning loss in the Virginia primary earlier this summer. Scalise's term begins August 1.
"He could fix this today," said Scalise. "He’s been AWOL on it."
"The president has a lot of time to secure fundraisers, but no time to secure the border," Scalise told Wallace. "He wants to sit back and play politics, he's flying around the country to hold fundraisers, but hasn't had time to come and sit down with Congress."
Congress is due to head out on recess in five days, and Scalise would not commit to whether that will be postponed to allow further work on a border security bill.
"We're not even on recess," said Scalise, noting that the House will take leadership on the action. "We're here right now and we're ready to work."
He also noted that any legislation passed should include reversing a 2008 anti-trafficking law that keeps the United States from quickly deporting migrants from any country other than Mexico and Canada.
Meanwhile, Scalise accused Obama of wanting to "sit back and point fingers," but insisted the House will do its job, even if the Senate and Obama don't.
"At some point the president should sit down and say, 'Do we really want to solve this problem?'" Scalise said. "I want to solve this problem. I’m going to stay working until we get it done. The House is going to take leadership."
But while Scalise would not rule out impeachment or postponing the upcoming Congressional recess, he was firm on one looming matter — ruling out the potential for another government shutdown this fall.
The current round of government funding is set to expire at the end of September, and Scalise insisted House Republicans will not be shutting down the government come Oct. 1. He noted there are already measures in place to keep the government running, even if there is disagreement in financial talks.
"We're going to keep the government running at its current levels," Scalise told Wallace.
Scalise is the first tea party member who has reached the top of Republican leadership in the House, and he told Wallace that Republicans need to "focus on those things that unite us," such as the more than 300 House bills that continue to languish in the Senate.
He said he also plans to push for the House to work on a conservative healthcare plan that not only repeals, but replaces Obamacare, noting that he's passionate about lowering costs and putting patients back in charge of their own healthcare.
Scalise said he also wants Obama and the Senate to put a plan on the table for saving Medicare and Social Security. He has called for raising the age limits for both programs, and insisted the Republican plan will save the programs while Democrats will destroy it.
"If Medicare goes bust, that's not responsible," said Scalise.
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