The Speaker of the House, John Boehner, appeared on the show with Congressman John Campbell filling in, covering ISIS, both in Iraq and Syria, Libya, the economy, immigration and leadership.
JC: And now on the phone with us, we have the gentleman from Ohio, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Mr. John Boehner. Mr. Speaker, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
JB: John, it’s good to be with you.
JC: Well, the news today obviously is the release of the video beheading Steve Sotloff. And so I want to get right into issues having to do with this. The House will come back, Congress will come back into session next week after August recess. There’s been a lot of developments on the international front while we’ve been in recess. First of all, does the President, do you believe the President has the authority under existing law to order air strikes against ISIS in Syria? Or does he only have authority to do so in Iraq under existing law?
JB: I think under existing authorizations from the Congress, he has the ability to do this in Iraq. It’s, I think it’s questionable whether he has the authority to do this in Syria. You know, the threat from ISIS goes back well over a year. And the crisis in Syria’s been going on now for over two years. And we’ve asked the President, asked the President what is your strategy to deal with Syria. And clearly, there’s no strategy that’s developed there. But when ISIS came across the Iraqi border in January, you know, I asked the question. Mr. President, where is the strategy to deal with the growing Islamic threat, because it’s not just Syria, and it’s not just Iraq. This goes from Libya to Gaza to Lebanon to Syria and Iraq. All of these countries are basically under control of Islamic terrorists who are hellbent on killing Americans, as we saw once again today.
JC: What then, and it’s clearly, I think everyone, even Democrats, people on the left understand the President said he had no strategy. What will the House do then? What is, what will the House’s strategy be? What will the House’s actions be? What will your actions be when we come back into session next week relative to this clear and present danger?
JB: Listen, the President is the commander-in-chief. He’s also the president of the United States. And it’s his responsibility as the chief executive to outline a plan that will protect American interest, protect American lives both at home and abroad. And until the President is willing to lay out a plan, the Congress has very few options ahead of it.
JC: If he, you said it’s unclear if he were to order air strikes in Syria, if he were to do that, would the House object to that, do you think?
JB: Well, the President has provided the notification of some of these strikes, even in Iraq, because there’s some ambiguity there in terms of how much authority in Iraq did he have. But if he’s going after ISIS, he would have, I think he would have to provide a war powers notification to the Congress. And then it would be up to the House to make a decision about whether we dealt with the issue or not.
JC: And what I hear you saying is you’re calling on him to do that, that he should be providing us some kind of war powers request, if you will, on what strategy on how he intends to deal with this threat?
JB: I think it’s the President’s responsibility to outline to the American people how we’re going to deal with this problem. It is not going to go away. It’s intent, their intent is to kill Americans at home and abroad, and we either deal with this head on and eliminate this threat, or continue to put Americans at risk.
JC: Let me switch gears for a second, Mr. Speaker, because we have limited time here. And although this is clearly the news and the threat of the day, Americans are still struggling out there with an economy that isn’t really rocking, and with unemployment that is down, but still too high. I know you have been working on that the last few weeks. Tell me about your bus tour, the various things you’re doing on jobs and the economy currently.
JB: Well, this is day 32 of a 35 day motor coach trip that’s taken me at this point to about 15 states, and to a number of Congressional districts, helping members and helping candidates. And you know, I’ve been in a lot of restaurants, a lot of hotels, and everybody I run into continues to ask the same question. Where are the jobs? And I’ve outlined for them the 40 jobs bills that have been passed by the House. They’re sitting in the United States Senate. I’ve also outlined to them the 352 bills passed on a bipartisan basis out of the House. They’re sitting in Harry Reid’s Senate. And when the President wants to talk about the do-nothing Congress, he ought to be pointing his finger at the do-nothing United States Senate. But the American people want to know what we’re doing about jobs. I’ve outlined the various proposals that we think would improve our economy, improve the prospect of more jobs in America, and frankly, better wages.
JC: What will the House be doing in the next couple of weeks? What will be the agenda for the House either on the economic front or the international front?
JB: Well, it’s pretty clear that the Senate hasn’t done anything over the last year and a half, and I don’t see them doing anything on the eve of an election, and because the Senate has passed no appropriation bills. We’ve got to fund the government until the end of September, and so I would expect there will be a continuing resolution to fund the government from September 30th into early December.
JC: Okay, and let me ask you one other question, pivoting for a second, to immigration. The President has talked about issuing an executive order on the immigration front, but now for political reasons, they may push that back until after the election. Your comment on that, and is there any action you or the House might take if he does that, or if he doesn’t do that?
JB: Well, I’ve outlined to the President in July that the House, the Congress, ought to be dealing with immigration reform. It wasn’t likely to happen this year because of the flood on the border, and the President’s own pounding his chest about using his phone and his pen. But I did outline that you know, there’s a possibility that Congress could take this issue up next year. But if that were going to happen, there are things that he should do, and things he should not do as we lead up to this. And I think adhering to the law is a minimum requirement from the President. And he ought to be takin actions to better secure our borders. And so I would hope that the President would continue to follow the law, and begin to take steps that would better secure our border. It would create an environment where you could do immigration reform in a responsible way next year.
JC: The other major area we haven’t talked about on the international front is the Russian/Ukraine situation. The President will be in Wales this week for a NATO and other summit on this subject. What would you like to see the President emerge from that meeting with?
JB: Well, the President and NATO need to make clear to Putin that we are not going to tolerate their continued incursions into Ukraine. Listen, the seeds of what we’re seeing today were sown by the President five years ago when he did his apology tour, when he went to Europe and he went to the Middle East and apologized for America being strong and America leading. The world wants us to lead. And when he sent this signal, he sent the message out to all the goofballs around the world that if they wanted to go poach, it was fine with him. Now does anybody think that Vladimir Putin would have gone into Crimea had George W. Bush been president?
JC: Mr. Speaker, we’re out of time, I’m afraid. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
End of interview.