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Boehner Says Rolling Back Obamacare Is GOP Priority

Cliff Owen AP
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Thursday. Boehner warned President Obama not to go it alone on immigration reform.

House Speaker John Boehner said approval of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline and the repeal key parts of Obamacare are among the Republicans' top priorities now that the GOP controls both houses of Congress.

"Obamacare is hurting our economy, it's hurting middle class workers and it's hurting the ability to create more jobs," Boehner said, adding that Republicans want to replace it with "common sense reforms."

Among those reforms, he said, would be eliminating the individual mandate that requires employers to provide health insurance for their employees.

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Boehner said those changes to Obamacare would pass in the House but he wasn't sure if the Republicans in the Senate could surmount a 60-vote threshold to clear a filibuster.

He acknowledged that the president was unlikely to sign such changes, despite the election results.

"My job is to listen to the American public," he said. "And they've made it clear that they don't want Obamacare.

"The president said 'I listened to what happened on Tuesday.' I say 'really?'" the speaker said.

Boehner, facing reporters for his first post-election news conference, ticked off a list of items at or near the top of the GOP agenda. They also include: reducing the nation's debt, overhauling the tax code and reforming the legal and regulatory systems.

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The speaker also warned that if President Obama takes unilateral action on immigration, he risks losing a revolt by GOP lawmakers and the possibility of a comprehensive deal.

"I believe if the president acts on his own, he risks poisoning the well," Boehner said. "If you play with matches, you will get burnt."

Boehner said immigration had been a "political football" for the past decade or so. "It's time to do something about it," he said.

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