Boehner warns Obama about 'burning' himself on immigration

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Boehner, McConnell Pledge Renewed Commitment To Obamacare Repeal

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a blunt post-election warning, House Speaker John Boehner cautioned President Barack Obama on Thursday against taking sweeping action on immigration without congressional approval, saying "when you play with matches you take the risk of burning yourself."

"And he's going to burn himself if he continues to go down this path," the Ohio Republican said at his first news conference after elections in which Republicans captured control of the Senate that meets in January and emerged with their largest majority in the House in at least 70 years.

Obama has said he intends to reduce deportations of immigrants who are working yet living illegally in the United States.

Boehner made his comments one day before he and the other congressional leaders head to the White House for a lunch meeting with Obama. Even before the new Congress convenes, the outgoing one is scheduled to meet next week to wrap up business left over from the past two years.

Sketching an early agenda for 2015, Boehner said the Congress that convenes in January hopes to pass legislation approving construction of the long-stalled Keystone XL pipeline planned to carry Canadian oil to the United States.

At the White House, spokesman Josh Ernest was equivocal about whether the president might sign a bill along those lines. "We'll consider any sort of proposals that are passed by Congress, including a rider like this, that ... does seem to pretty directly contradict the position that's been adopted by this administration," he said.

Boehner also mentioned bills to help create jobs and a measure to encourage businesses to hire veterans and several to attack the health care law piecemeal.

Boehner, just shy of his 65th birthday, won a 13th term from the voters in western Ohio on Tuesday. Despite widely publicized difficulties managing his fractious rank and file in the past four years, he is assured of a new term as speaker when Congress convenes in January.

This time, unlike the others, the man in charge of the Senate's agenda will be a Republican. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the incoming majority leader, is from Kentucky, a state that neighbors Ohio.

Even before confronting Democrats and the White House, the two are likely to face a steady stream of management challenges from within as they pursue a GOP agenda.

Among them are a strong presence of tea party-backed lawmakers in both houses, softer-edged, conservative swing-state senators who will be on the ballot in 2016, and a group of presidential hopefuls that includes Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul from McConnell's own state of Kentucky.

Boehner defended most of the newcomers to the ranks of House Republicans after he was asked about one who has said Hillary Rodham Clinton is the "antichrist" and another who said family members of victims of the Sandy Hook elementary shootings should get over the experience.

"When you look at the vast majority of the new members that are coming in here, they're really solid members," he said.

Boehner's news conference followed McConnell's first post-election meeting with reporters by one day.

So far, neither man has made much of what is expected to be an all-out Republican assault on federal deficits.

The party has passed budgets through the House in recent years that eliminate deficits in a decade. The likely chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, said in a pre-election interview that was his timetable as well.

Achieving that goal without tax increases will require significant savings from benefit programs like food stamps, welfare and possibly Medicare and Social Security over the next decade.

At his news conference, Boehner also said Congress will vote to repeal the health care law that stands as Obama signature domestic accomplishment, but Boehner conceded the measure may not clear the Senate despite a new GOP majority. Democrats will have more than enough seats to block passage.

Instead, the speaker said the Republican-controlled Congress might seek piecemeal changes in the law, which he said repeatedly "is hurting our economy." He mentioned measures to repeal a medical device tax, abolish an advisory board that is charged with recommending cuts to Medicare in future years, and repealing a requirement for individuals to purchase coverage.

The first is a provision that many Democrats oppose and have indicated privately they would like to jettison. Abolition of the second would greatly undercut the legislation's claimed deficit savings in future years. Obama made it clear on Wednesday at a White House news conference he opposes ending the coverage requirement.

Despite Obama's remarks, Boehner said, "There are bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate to take some of these issues out of `Obamacare.' We need to put them on the president's desk and let him choose."

----

Associated Press writers Donna Cassata, Josh Lederman, Dina Cappiello and Andrew Taylor in Washington contributed to this report.

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Boehner warns Obama about 'burning' himself on immigration
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 6: Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, holds his first press conference in the Capitol on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014, following the Republican wave midterm elections. Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
FILE- These 2014 file photos show, from left, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. They will be the top three players in political Washington for the next two years: President Barack Obama, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner. (AP Photo, File)
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014. Boehner said the Republican-controlled Congress will act to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, make changes in the health care law and encourage businesses to hire more veterans. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky holds a news conference on the day after the GOP gained enough seats to control the Senate in next year's Congress and make McConnell majority leader, in Louisville, Ky., Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. With sweeping victories that exceeded their own sky-high expectations, Republicans dealt the Democrats and President Barack Obama the most devastating electoral defeat of his presidency, gaining the power to shape the direction of America's government in the next two years. His first meeting with reporters since winning a sixth term in the midterm election, the senator was speaking at the University of Louisville's McConnell Center for political studies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, in Washington. Obama is holding an afternoon news conference Wednesday to share his take on the midterm election results after his party lost control of the Senate, and lost more turf in the GOP-controlled House while putting a series of Democratic-leaning states under control of new Republican governors. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama smiles at a reporter after saying that he's missed speaking to the reporters, as he is asked a question during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, in Washington. Obama is holding an afternoon news conference Wednesday to share his take on the midterm election results after his party lost control of the Senate, and lost more turf in the GOP-controlled House while putting a series of Democratic-leaning states under control of new Republican governors. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 05: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to the media during a news conference in the East Room a day after Democrats lost the US Senate Majority, November 5, 2014 in Washington, DC. Yesterday Republicans won the majority of the US Senate for the first time in 8 years after Americans went to the polls and voted in the mid-term elections. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama enters a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, in Washington. Obama is holding an afternoon news conference Wednesday to share his take on the midterm election results after his party lost control of the Senate, and lost more turf in the GOP-controlled House while putting a series of Democratic-leaning states under control of new Republican governors. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky holds a news conference on the day after the GOP gained enough seats to control the Senate in next year's Congress and make McConnell majority leader, in Louisville, Ky., Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. With sweeping victories that exceeded their own sky-high expectations, Republicans dealt the Democrats and President Barack Obama the most devastating electoral defeat of his presidency, gaining the power to shape the direction of America's government in the next two years. His first meeting with reporters since winning a sixth term in the midterm election, the senator was speaking at the University of Louisville's McConnell Center for political studies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Barack Obama pause during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, in Washington. Obama is standing by his pledge to act on his own to reduce deportations and improve border security by the end of the year. Obama says he will take his own steps despite election results that gave Republicans control of Congress. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
US President Barack Obama speaks during a press conference in the East Room of the White House November 5, 2014 in Washington, DC. Obama spoke about last nights midterm election where Republicans maintained control of the House of Representatives and took control of the Senate. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama, center, arrives to speak at a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. Confronting Republican control of both houses of Congress for the first time during his administration, President Obama faces a dilemma: how to fight when there's political value while at the same time trying to rebuild bridges to lawmakers in the party. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US President Barack Obama speaks during a press conference in the East Room of the White House on November 5, 2014 in Washington, DC. Obama held the press conference one day after his Democratic party was defeated in midterm elections. President Obama congratulated his Republican opponents Wednesday on their midterm election victory and promised to work constructively with them in Congress for the next two years.'Obviously, Republicans had a good night and they deserve credit for running good campaigns,' he said, after Republicans took control of the Senate and strengthened their hold on the House of Representatives. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama, center, arrives to speak at a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. Confronting Republican control of both houses of Congress for the first time during his administration, President Obama faces a dilemma: how to fight when there's political value while at the same time trying to rebuild bridges to lawmakers in the party. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 05: U.S. President Barack Obama walks away after speaking to the media during a news conference in the East Room a day after Democrats lost the US Senate Majority, November 5, 2014 in Washington, DC. Yesterday Republicans won the majority of the US Senate for the first time in 8 years after Americans went to the polls and voted in the mid-term elections. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, in Washington. Obama says he'll certainly be spending more time with McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner (BAY'-nur), adding that's the only way the White House and Congress will be able to get anything done. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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