Boehner to Obama: We're watching you
By Russell Berman - 01/28/14 11:10 AM EST
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday delivered a blunt message to President Obama ahead of his plan for increased unilateral action: We’re watching you.
House Republicans urged Obama not to go around Congress, and Boehner warned that Congress would act if the president's orders did not pass muster under the Constitution.
The House GOP "will continue to look closely at whether the president is faithfully executing laws, as he took an oath to do,” Boehner told reporters after a meeting of the Republican conference. “We’re going to watch very closely, because there’s a Constitution that we all take an oath to, including him, and following the Constitution is the basis for House Republicans.”
Asked what the House would do if lawmakers determined Obama skirted the Constitution, Boehner said only, “There are options that are available to us.” Republicans, he said, would discuss them at their annual retreat, which begins Wednesday in Cambridge, Md.
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, Obama plans to announce that he will unilaterally raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for employees under new federal contracts.
Boehner said he thought the president had the authority to do that, but he dismissed the action as one that is likely to have little practical impact.
“Let’s understand something: This affects not one current contract,” he said. “It only affects future contracts with the federal government. So I think the question is, how many people, Mr. president, will this executive action actually help?”
Citing his career as a small business owner, Boehner blasted the president’s call for a higher minimum wage as “bad policy” that would costs jobs and “hurt the very people the president purports to want to help.”
Other Republican leaders said they agreed with Obama’s call for 2014 to be “a year of action,” but they prodded him to work with Congress to achieve results on job-creation measures.
“If that is going to happen, he needs to put down his pen and his phone and work with us, not around us, to make this country the great country that it can be,” said Rep. Lynn Jenkins (Kan.), vice chairwoman of the House Republican conference.
At a separate event, House Democrats took a more favorable view of Obama’s plans.
"Working with Congress, or if Congress wants, working without Congress, the president is going to get work done," Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said after a party meeting in the Capitol. "We applaud him for that."