WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama criticized House Republicans on Friday for planning to pass "the most extreme and unworkable versions of a bill that they already know is going nowhere" amid an ongoing border crisis.
"They're not even trying to actually solve the problem," Obama said of the House GOP at a press conference from the White House. "This is a message bill that they couldn't pull off yesterday, so they made it a little more extreme so maybe they can pass it today. Just so they can check a box before they're leaving town for a month."
Obama has requested $3.7 billion in funding so agencies can effectively care for the unaccompanied minors at the border, quickly get through their removal cases and try to deter more from coming. More than 57,500 unaccompanied minors, most from violence-wracked countries in Central America, have been apprehended at the border since October.
But Obama is unlikely to get that funding any time soon. The Senate left Washington on Thursday without passing its plan to address the border crisis. And while the House is likely to pass its own funding measure on Friday, it's one that would never get through the Senate and will be coupled with a bill to end one of Obama's key immigration policies that keeps undocumented young people who have been in the U.S. for seven years or more from being deported.
The House is planning to vote later Friday on a package that would provide $694 million in funding to deal with the situation along the border. Unlike the Senate bill, the House measure calls for a number of policy changes, including sending National Guard troops to the border and changing a 2008 law so that unaccompanied minors from countries other than Mexico and Canada can be deported more easily. That bill was reworked after being removed from the vote schedule on Thursday, when it became clear it didn't have enough Republican votes to pass. The previous bill had already received a veto threat from the White House, and the new legislation was made even more conservative to get additional GOP members on board.
When House Republican leaders pulled the vote for the bill on Thursday, they issued a statement blaming Obama for the crisis and said he should act on his own -- even though the House voted on Wednesday to authorize a lawsuit against Obama for executive actions.
"Keep in mind that just a few days earlier, they voted to sue me for acting on my own," Obama said. "And then when they couldn't pass a bill yesterday, they put out a statement suggesting I should act on my own because they couldn't pass a bill."
Obama added that he would have to reallocate funding on his own because Congress has not approved funding to address the border crisis.
"I'm going to have to act alone, because we don't have enough resources," he said.
Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), responded to Obama in an emailed statement criticizing the president for calling for changes to the 2008 law but not pushing them as part of his funding request.
"When it comes to the humanitarian crisis on our southern border, President Obama has been completely AWOL -- in fact, he has made matters worse by flip-flopping on the 2008 law that fueled the crisis," Steel said. "Senate Democrats have left town without acting on his request for a border supplemental. Right now, House Republicans are the only ones still working to address this crisis."