An emboldened House Speaker John A. Boehner warned Thursday that President Obama will "burn himself" if he takes executive action on immigration reform over Republican objections.
Yet Boehner declined to promise that Republicans will offer their own immigration solutions now that the party controls both houses of Congress, acknowledging that the issue has vexed his leadership.
Doing so would "poison the well," Boehner said in his own first remarks after Republican midterm sweep, at a time when lawmakers want to rebuild trust with the administration. Republicans will have the biggest majority in the House in nearly a century.
"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 speaker said of the president.
Before year's end, the administration is expected allow as many as 5 million immigrants to stay in the country without fear of deportation. Many of those protected would likely be parents of American citizens.
Republicans have repeatedly failed in their own efforts to pass immigration legislation because of party infighting over the best approach.
A bipartisan Senate bill crafted with top GOP leaders, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), fizzled in the House over the provision to let immigrants here illegally remain in the U.S. if they are law abiding, learn English and pay back taxes and fines.
Staff writer Michael A. Memoli in the Washington bureau contributed to this report.