At his first post-election press conference, House Speaker John Boehner said: "My job is to listen to the American people. The American people have made it clear, they're not for Obamacare. Ask all those Democrats who lost their elections Tuesday night."
He also said: "So, the House, I'm sure, at some point next year, we'll move to repeal Obamacare because it should be repealed and it should be replaced with common sense reforms that respect the doctor/patient relationship."
Did Boehner mean:
1) He intends for the House to terminate implementation of Obamacare at some point in the next year.
2) He intends for the House to ensure Obamacare is implemented next year.
At the same press conference, Boehner said: "You've all heard me say, starting two years ago yesterday, that our immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed. But I've made clear to the president that if he acts unilaterally on his own, outside of his authority, he will poison the well and there will be no chance for immigration reform moving in this Congress. It's as simple as that."
Did Boehner mean:
1) He intends for the House to stop Obama from unilaterally and unconstitutionally granting amnesty to illegal aliens.
2) He intends for the House to permit Obama to do so.
Boehner also said at this press conference: "I believe that we need to ... address the debt that's hurting our economy and imprisoning the future of our kids and grandkids ... "
Did Boehner mean:
1) He intends for the House to significantly cut spending in its next long-term funding bill.
2) He intends for the House to approve a new long-term funding bill that includes all spending measures President Obama truly wants.
If I had to take this test, I would mark No. 2 as the answer to each question.
Back on Sept. 18, the House Republican leaders pushed through a short-term continuing resolution to fund the government until Dec. 11. This CR punted all substantive issues past the election. It fully funded Obamacare, including the regulation that requires individual Christians to buy coverage for abortion-inducing drugs even if though that violates their religious faith. It fully funded Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading abortionist. It did nothing to stop Obama from using money from the Treasury to implement an unconstitutional unilateral amnesty granting legal status to illegal aliens.
By agreeing to a CR that expires on Dec. 11 rather than Jan. 11, the House Republican leaders not only ensured that they would not need to fight with Obama over any significant issues before the election, they also made it possible to prevent incoming Republican majorities in both houses from having any substantive say over major policy issues until at least next September.
Prior to the election, Politico published a story based on an interview with Boehner's top lieutenant, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Politico reported that McCarthy "would like to use the lame-duck session to pass a long-term government-funding bill, so Washington can begin focusing on big-picture legislating, instead of just trying to keep government's doors open."
In plain English: The Republican leaders hope to cut a spending deal with Obama and out-going Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in December before the new Republican majorities in the House and Senate are sworn into office.
Such a spending deal, which would run through Sept. 30 of next year, would be like the deal Republican leaders cut with Obama and Reid this past September.
It would permit Obama to spend money doing everything he truly finds important.
And it would allow the new Republican Congress to hold a string of symbolic votes next year on stand-alone pieces of legislation that Obama can afford to veto without shutting down the whole government or even part of it.
Obama will get substance. Republicans will get symbols.
Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama is calling for a different strategy. He wants to actually prevent Obama from unilaterally granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens.
"He must be stopped," Sessions wrote in a commentary for Politico this week.
Obama's amnesty, Sessions said, "cannot be implemented if Congress simply includes routine language on any government funding bill prohibiting the expenditure of funds for this unlawful purpose. This is the same way we prevented the president from closing Guantanamo Bay. Such application of congressional power is ordinary, unexceptional, and used thousands of times.
"Congress has the power of the purse," said Sessions. "The president cannot spend a dime unless Congress appropriates it."
The only way Obama can carry out a unilateral amnesty, implement Obamacare, or attack religious liberty is if Boehner's House once again gives him the money to do.