Boehner: No 'blank check' for border crisis

Speaker John Boehner on Thursday said Republicans will not give a “blank check” to President Obama to deal with the crisis on the border.

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While Boehner (R-Ohio) said no decisions have been made on legislation, he was adamant that there will be strings attached to the emergency funding that Obama has requested to deal with the thousands of unaccompanied children who have entered illegally into the United States.

“I can tell you this: We're not giving the president a blank check," Boehner said. "Beyond that, we'll await further discussions with our members before we make a final decision."

With Congress set to leave town in early August for a month-long recess, Boehner said he thinks the House should act on border legislation this month, though he declined to offer specifics.

"I do believe that the House should act this month. What that action would be, I think, has yet to be determined," Boehner said at this weekly Capitol press conference.

Asked whether he thinks Republicans would suffer a political backlash if the border funding isn’t provided, the Speaker said the blame for the problem falls on Obama’s doorstep.

"This is a problem of the president's own making," Boehner said with a raised voice. "He's been president for five and a half years. When's he going to take responsibility for something?"

Republicans argue Obama’s relaxed deportation policies have encouraged the influx of children across the southern border. The White House acknowledges that there are misperceptions about Obama’s immigration policies in Latin America but says other factors are driving the border surge.

One of the complicating factors for responding to the crisis is a 2008 human trafficking law that prevents unaccompanied children who are not from Mexico or Canada from being quickly deported.

The Speaker said he supports the administration’s call for changing the trafficking law.

"I do," Boehner said. "And the president agrees with it as well."

"Clearly, we would probably like the language to be similar to what we have with Mexico," Boehner said.

Obama has requested $3.7 billion in emergency funding to speed up the deportations process, and on Wednesday demanded that Congress take swift action on the request.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Republicans would be blamed if they don't move quickly on the border funds.

"If we do that, then we’re going to get blamed for perpetuating the problem," Graham told reporters.

Some conservatives are wary of giving the White House such a large chunk of cash without assurances it will be used to toughen border security.

Boehner said he is still awaiting the results of a review from the House Appropriations Committee and the House GOP working group about border security. The findings of the report could influence the GOP’s next steps. 

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