On Wednesday, House Republicans sued President Obama for acting on his own without approval from Congress. On Thursday, House Republicans told President Obama he should act on his own to fix the border crisis.
The messaging whiplash resulted from Speaker John Boehner's failure – so far – to pass a Republican spending bill that would provide $659 million to help stem the child migrant crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border.
In a statement following the decision to abruptly scrap a vote on the measure, Boehner and his fellow GOP leaders tried to put the onus back on Obama, saying the president had the power to act unilaterally, "without the need for congressional action," to respond to the crisis.
There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries."
Yet that was a polar opposite message from the one Republicans delivered a day earlier, when they voted to authorize a lawsuit against Obama for "bypass[ing] the legislative process to create his own laws by executive fiat," according to an accompanying committee report.
It was a contradiction not lost on Democrats, who reacted with their usual schadenfreude to the latest collapse of House GOP legislation.
“Senator Reid agrees with House Republican leaders’ statement that President Obama has the authority to take steps on immigration reform on his own," said Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for a clearly gloating Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
He's glad Republicans have come around and hopes this means they’ll drop their frivolous lawsuit against the President instead of continuing to waste the American people’s time and money.”
House Democrats mocked Republicans over the confusion at a hearing late Thursday. "I wonder if after today the president might want to sue the House of Representatives for malpractice," Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) mused.
And Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) asked what would happen if Obama actually listened to the Republican plea. "If we get the president to take executive action, are we going to sue him again a second time?" he asked.
Boehner's office, of course, argues there is a clear distinction between the president's existing executive authority to, say, send more troops to the border or require migrant children to return to their home countries and his actions to "change laws" passed by Congress.
Meanwhile, House Republicans were meeting behind closed doors Thursday as leaders tried to decide whether to make another run at passing their bill or to simply give up and take a five-week vacation.