By Mike Lillis - 01/28/14 01:12 PM EST
House Democratic leaders say uncooperative GOP leaders have left President Obama with little choice but to act unilaterally.
They are cheering Obama's move Tuesday to hike the minimum wage for federal contractors without congressional approval, and also back his promises to take more executive actions.
“Should he have to wait because of the intransigence, the obstacles that are [put] in place by Republicans? … He's saying, 'I'll do what I can as the executive of this government,’” Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said after a closed door meeting in the Capitol.
“The president is asking Congress to work with him,” Becerra added. “But he's not going to wait forever because you've got this heavy anchor of inaction in Congress weighing [down] the country and the economy.”
The White House on Tuesday announced plans to use an executive order to hike the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 for future government contract workers. Obama is expected to trumpet the move during his State of the Union speech Tuesday night.
Republicans have accused the president of trampling the Constitution by sidestepping the checks and balances of the Congress.
“We have a minimum wage. Congress has set it,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said Tuesday. “For the president to simply declare I'm going to change this law that Congress has passed is unconstitutional.”
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) also weighed in, saying Obama probably has the authority to hike the minimum wage on federal contracts without congressional input, but warning that the policy would hurt businesses and kill jobs.
More broadly, Boehner cautioned that Obama's executive order strategy will “run into a brick wall” with GOP leaders in the House. He said Republicans will be watching “very closely” to determine if they'll push legislation attempting to rein in Obama's unilateral actions.
"We’re just not going to sit here and let the President trample all over us," said Boehner.
Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus, characterized Obama's move on the minimum wage as “leading by example.”
“This is not the fix we're looking for, but he's leading by example, sending a message to Congress that we need to raise the minimum wage for all Americans,” Crowley said. “He's not trying to abrogate the Constitution. … He wouldn't do that. What's he's doing is trying to lead, and I'm impressed by that.”