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“Obama gives peace a chance with Cuba. All guys like Speaker Boehner can do is condemn the action, because they are not capable of doing great things, they act only out of spite, cover their ears to the whisper of peace, while turning up the volume to the screams of torture.”
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio holds a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington Friday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner declared Friday that President Barack Obama was "damaging the presidency" with his unilateral action on immigration. He said the Republican-run House will not stand by, but gave no hint of what the response would be.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Spurning furious Republicans, President Barack Obama unveiled expansive executive actions on immigration Thursday night to spare nearly 5 million people in the U.S. illegally from deportation and refocus enforcement efforts on "felons, not families."
The moves, affecting mostly parents and young people, marked the most sweeping changes to the nation's fractured immigration laws in nearly three decades and set off a fierce fight with Republicans over the limits of presidential powers.
In a televised address to the nation, Obama defended the legality of his actions and challenged GOP lawmakers to focus their energy not on blocking his actions, but on approving long-stalled legislation to take its place.
"To those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill," Obama said, flexing his presidential powers just two weeks after his political standing was challenged in the midterm elections.
As Obama addressed the nation from the White House, immigration supporters with American flags draped over their shoulders marched on the street outside carrying signs that read, "Gracias, Presidente Obama."
Despite Obama's challenge to Republicans to pass a broader immigration bill, his actions and the angry GOP response could largely stamp out prospects for Congress passing comprehensive legislation under the current administration, ensuring that the contentious debate will carry on into the 2016 presidential campaign.
Republicans, emboldened by their sweeping victories in the midterms, are weighing responses to the president's actions that include lawsuits, a government shutdown, and in rare instances, even impeachment.
"The president will come to regret the chapter history writes if he does move forward," Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who is soon to become the Senate majority leader, said before Obama's address.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who has refused to have his members vote on broad immigration legislation passed by the Senate last year, said Obama's decision to go it alone "cemented his legacy of lawlessness and squandered what little credibility he had left."
While Obama's measures are sweeping in scope, they still leave more than half of the 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally in limbo. The president announced new deportation priorities that would compel law enforcement to focus its efforts on tracking down serious criminals and people who have recently crossed the border, while specifically placing a low priority on those who have been in the U.S. for more than 10 years.
He insisted that his actions did not amount to amnesty.
"Amnesty is the immigration system we have today — millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules, while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time," he said.
The main beneficiaries of the president's actions are immigrants who have been in the U.S. illegally for more than five years but whose children are citizens or lawful permanent residents. After passing background checks and paying fees, those individuals can now be granted relief from deportation for three years and get work permits. The administration expects about 4.1 million people to qualify.
Obama is also broadening his 2012 directive that deferred deportation for some young immigrants who entered the country illegally. Obama will expand eligibility to people who arrived in the U.S. as minors before 2010, instead of the current cutoff of 2007, and will lift the requirement that applicants be under 31. The expansion is expected to affect about 300,000 people.
Applications for the new deportation deferrals will begin in the spring.
Immigration-rights activists gathered at watch parties around the country to listen to the president announce actions they have sought for years.
"We're going to have plenty of Kleenex around," said Jorge-Mario Cabrera, spokesman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.
The White House insists Obama has the legal authority to halt deportations for parents and for people who came to the U.S. as children, primarily on humanitarian grounds. Officials also cited precedents set by previous immigration executive actions by Democratic and Republican presidents dating back to Dwight Eisenhower.
Disingenuous or dumb?
President Barack Obama meets with Congressional leaders in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Friday. From left are: House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
WASHINGTON (AP) — A White House lunch aiming for cooperation boiled into a fresh dispute with newly empowered Republicans over immigration reform Friday, with GOP leaders warning President Barack Obama to his face not to take unilateral action. The president stood unflinchingly by his plan to act.
Republicans attending the postelection lunch at Obama's invitation said they asked him for more time to work on legislation, but the president said his patience was running out. He underscored his intent to act on his own by the end of the year if they don't approve legislation to ease deportations before then and send it to him to sign.
The Republicans' approach, three days after they resoundingly won control of the Senate in midterm elections, "seemed to fall on deaf ears," Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said in a telephone interview. "The president instead of being contrite or saying in effect to America, 'I hear you,' as a result of the referendum on his policies that drove this last election, he seems unmoved and even defiant."
"I don't know why he would want to sabotage his last two years as president by doing something this provocative," said Cornyn. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell earlier this week said the president's stance was "like waving a red flag in front of a bull."
Obama press secretary Josh Earnest said there was no reason that executive action on immigration should kill opportunities for the president and Republicans to find common ground.
"I could stand up here and say Republicans to vote once again for the 50th time to repeal the Affordable Care Act, that that's playing with fire or waving a red flag in front of a bull. I'm not really sure what that means," Earnest said.
The White House said lawmakers went home from the meeting with a parting gift — a six-pack of beer brewed at the White House. The White House also said Obama laid out three areas where he and Congress could work together before the end of the year — emergency funding to combat the Ebola outbreak, approval of a federal budget and quick action on spending to fight the Islamic State militant group.
House Speaker John Boehner's office said he told Obama he was ready to work with the president on a new authorization for military force against the IS group if the president worked to build bipartisan support. The White House announced soon after lunch ended that the U.S. was sending as many as 1,500 more troops to Iraq to serve as advisers, trainers and security personnel as part of the mission. Obama is also asking Congress for more than $5 billion to help fund the fight.
Friday's two-hour meeting was tense at times, according to a senior House Republican aide. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, about to lose his grip on the upper chamber, barely said a word, the aide said. The aide said at one point as House Speaker John Boehner was making an argument on immigration, Obama responded that his patience was running out and Vice President Joe Biden interrupted to ask how long Republicans needed. Obama angrily cut Biden off, the aide said.
The aide was not authorized to describe the back-and-forth publicly by name and spoke only on condition of anonymity.
Publicly Obama's tone was more upbeat as he opened the gathering. He pledged to work on ending long-running partisan gridlock and to be open to Republican ideas. The president said the lunch was a chance to "explore where we can make progress" after Americans showed in the midterm elections that they wanted to see more accomplished in Washington.
"They'd like to see more cooperation," Obama said, sitting at the middle of 13 lawmakers in the Old Family Dining Room set with the Truman china. "And I think all of us have the responsibility, me in particular, to try to make that happen."
Reporters were ushered out before any lawmaker spoke or the lunch of sea bass was served. Republican descriptions of the meeting were provided after they returned to Capitol Hill.
For the record, Boehner's office said he suggested that the president should back a Republican jobs bill as a starting place for bipartisan action.
Obama said at the start he was interested in "hearing and sharing ideas" for compromise on measures to boost the economy, then mentioned his personal priorities of college affordability and investment in road and building projects. He also touted improved monthly job growth numbers out Friday as evidence his economic policies are working, saying, "We're doing something right here."
Briefings on Ebola and the Islamic State from Pentagon officials dominated much of the meeting, and the immigration debate was said to have lasted about half an hour. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said Republicans told Obama that any executive order, particularly on immigration but any issue, would be a "toxic decision."
"He still hasn't come to grips with the reality of the election and the consequences of the election," Barrasso said. "His tone and tenor didn't seem to reflect that of somebody whose policies were just significantly rejected all across the country just three days ago."
Flooded with a wave of immigrants from Central America, the Obama administration announced Friday it will open new facilities to house families caught crossing the border illegally.
Congressional Republicans are like a pathetic victim of bullying. When faced with a challenge, they draw up into a ball and beg not to be kicked.
“Pres. Obama should start acting more like a Republican, and shut down everything in John Boehner’s district, Mitch McConnell’s district, and Eric Cantors district. The “R” in Republican stands for retribution, that is how you get things done.”
Looks like I made a minor error in my recent letter (Tribune, Oct. 9; evtnow.com/5xz). It was Plessy v. Ferguson that declared racial segregation in schools legal, not Brown v. Board of Education. I wish the Tribune would correct those errors when they’re made. I admit it, I goofed.
The government reopened its doors Thursday after a battle-weary Congress approved a bipartisan measure to end a 16-day partial shutdown and avert the possibility of an economy-jarring default on U.S. obligations.
Bill Clinton left office after two terms as President in 2000. During the course of his Presidency policies were initiated which resulted in the country enjoying a robust economy which included, a budget surplus, low unemployment, no wars to speak of, and what should have been a rosey outlook going forward.
TUCSON — Saying their success would “devastate” the state budget, Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday said she does not want U.S. House Republicans to succeed in their bid to shutdown the Affordable Care Act.
Somenone needs to end this GOP tactic now
Amid a stalled momentum in the House of Representatives, Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake defended their proposed immigration legislation during a town hall event held at the Mesa Arts Center on Aug. 27.
Sen. John McCain is trying to convince Arizona business leaders to support immigration reform by touting its impact on the state's economy.
Dear Mr. President:
Borrowing for tuition, housing and books would be less expensive for college students and their parents this fall but the costs could soon start climbing under a bill the Senate passed overwhelmingly Wednesday.
Welcome to the "Max and Dave Show," a campaign-style swing around the country featuring two of the most powerful members of Congress rallying support for their effort to overhaul the nation's tax laws — and, just maybe, change the way Washington works.
With a solemnity reserved for momentous occasions, the Senate passed historic legislation Thursday offering the priceless hope of citizenship to millions of immigrants living illegally in America's shadows. The bill also promises a military-style effort to secure the long-porous border with Mexico.
In Spanish and English, the Senate pushed contentious immigration legislation over early procedural hurdles with deceptive ease on Tuesday as President Barack Obama insisted the “moment is now” to give 11 million immigrants in the United States illegally a chance at citizenship.
The Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative political groups has little if anything to do with most everyday taxpayers, but some lawmakers are hoping attention to the budding scandal will swell public and political support for rewriting and simplifying a federal tax code that has undergone some 5,000 changes in the past dozen years.
Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, right, voted against a measure that would have expanded background checks for gun buyers, a proposal that was pushed by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, far left, a Democrat who was wounded in a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson. Among those also pictured: Former Giffords staff Ron Barber (pictured at Giffords' right), now a U.S. Congressman from Southern Arizona; Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (between Barber and Flake) -- also the chair of the Democratic National Committee; Vice President Joe Biden (behind Wasserman Schultz); Speaker of the House John Boehner (behind Barber). [Vaughn Hillyard/Cronkite News]
Illegal abortion and ‘The Way of the World’