Immigration fallout: Speaker Boehner questions when Obama will take responsibility
His famously tanned visage got redder as he talked to reporters about the flood of child immigrants illegally entering the country and President Barack Obama's criticism of him and other Republicans over immigration policy.
"This is a problem of the President's own making," the Ohio Republican thundered on Thursday. "He's been President for five and a half years! When is he going to take responsibility for something?"
The eruption at his weekly news conference showed the rising political frustration in Washington over the immigration issue, a major fault line between Democrats and Republicans as congressional elections approach in November.
While motivated in part by the rolling TV cameras, Boehner's outburst also responded to salvos fired at him by Obama on a two-day trip to Texas -- the epicenter of the immigration influx -- in the endless effort to gain political advantage.
On Wednesday night, Obama told reporters in Dallas that Republicans put party gain over progress in resolving what the White House calls an urgent humanitarian situation -- tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors overwhelming the immigration system after illegally entering the United States in recent months.
"The problem here is not a major disagreement around the actions that could be helpful in dealing with the problem," he said, but whether Congress would "put the resources in place to get this done," adding: "Are folks more interested in politics, or are they more interested in solving the problem?"
Texas Gov. Rick Perry and other Republicans lashed out at Obama, particularly his decision not to tour overcrowded border facilities while in Texas to see for himself the human side of the situation.
"The American people expect to see their President when there is a disaster," Perry said in an interview Thursday, citing Obama's trip to the East Coast to tour damage caused by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. "He showed up at Sandy. Why not Texas?"
Obama said Wednesday that visiting facilities where the children are processed and detained would be little more than a photo opportunity.
"There's nothing that is taking place down there that I am not intimately aware of and briefed on. This isn't theater. This is a problem," he said.
Obama also called on Congress to quickly approve his request for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to deal with the crisis, which has left many of the 57,000 youngsters who entered the country illegally in the past nine months in a kind of immigration limbo.
A lot of them surrendered themselves to Customs and Border Protection officers on the belief they will be allowed to stay in the country, and officials have struggled to house the children amid a staggering backlog of immigration cases.
To Boehner and other Republicans, Obama gets the blame because of his past decision to halt deportations of some young undocumented immigrants.
"On our southern border, we've got a true humanitarian crisis underway with children caught in the middle," Boehner said, adding that Obama's actions "gave false hope to children and their families (that) if they entered the country illegally, they would be allowed to stay."
Criticized by Obama for preventing a House vote on a Senate-passed immigration reforms that would provide a path to legal status for millions of undocumented people living in America, Boehner said he wanted the House to take up legislation addressing the current influx before it goes on recessin August.
However, he made clear Obama's emergency funding plan would get serious scrutiny, saying: "We are not giving the President a blank check."