House Republican leaders spoke during a Tuesday morning news conference, just hours before Obama delivers his fifth State of the Union address. They argued that if Obama really wants to boost economic growth and living conditions for middle-class Americans, he should work with them -- not around them -- on bipartisan jobs legislation. Obama's plan to rely on executive orders to push his agenda is expected to be a major theme of Tuesday evening's speech.
Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, declined to rule out taking legal action against the White House if House Republicans determine that an Obama executive order unconstitutionally bypasses the legislative branch. Boehner said he does believe that Obama has the power to raise the minimum wage for employees hired to fulfill new government contracts, but said House Republicans would closely monitor the plethora of executive orders the president is vowing to pursue this year.
“House Republicans will continue to look closely, whether the president is faithfully executing the laws as he took an oath to do,” Boehner told reporters. “We’re going to watch very closely, because there’s a constitution that we all take an oath to.”
Meanwhile, House Republicans said they remain ready and willing to work with Obama to address jobs.
They oppose his proposal to raise the federal minimum wage and have resisted his plan to extend unemployment benefit for the long-term jobless. But Republicans assert that the jobs related bill they have passed, and that continue to languish in the Democratic Senate, would put people back to work, mitigating the need for yet more government assistance.
Boehner said House Republicans will discuss immigration reform and the debt ceiling at a private policy retreat later this week. They are scheduled to decamp for a resort in Cambridge, Md., on Wednesday to solidify their 2014 agenda.
“We join the president in expecting this to be a year of action. But if that is going to happen, he needs to put down his pen and his phone, work with us, not work around us,” Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., said.