Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

Obama Calls Cantor After Day of Immigration Sparring

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:05 p.m. | President Barack Obama called House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Wednesday to implore House Republicans to hold a vote on the Senate-passed  immigration overhaul, prompting Cantor to say the president hasn’t learned how to work with Congress.

The Virginia Republican’s retort came in the form of a statement on a day of nasty back and forth between the president, Democrats and House GOP leadership over immigration legislation.

“The President called me hours after he issued a partisan statement which attacked me and my fellow House Republicans and which indicated no sincere desire to work together,” Cantor said in his Wednesday statement. “After five years, President Obama still has not learned how to effectively work with Congress to get things done. You do not attack the very people you hope to engage in a serious dialogue.

“I told the President the same thing I told him the last time we spoke. House Republicans do not support Senate Democrats’ immigration bill and amnesty efforts, and it will not be considered in the House. I also reiterated to the President there are other issues where we can find common ground, build trust and get America working again. I hope the President can stop his partisan messaging, and begin to seriously work with Congress to address the issues facing working middle class Americans that are struggling to make ends meet in this economy.”

The White House did not issue a readout of the call with Cantor, which the president must have made while on the road with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Obama and other Democrats spent the day marking the one-year anniversary of the introduction of an immigration overhaul in the Senate by slamming House Republicans for failing to take up the issue — and GOP leaders fired right back.

The president began the day by calling for a floor vote in the House on the Senate’s bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill.

“Unfortunately, Republicans in the House of Representatives have repeatedly failed to take action, seemingly preferring the status quo of a broken immigration system over meaningful reform,” Obama said in a statement. “Instead of advancing commonsense reform and working to fix our immigration system, House Republicans have voted in favor of extreme measures like a punitive amendment to strip protections from ‘Dreamers.'”

The statement went on to “urge House Republicans to listen to the will of the American people and bring immigration reform to the House floor for a vote.”

But in statements to CQ Roll Call, the offices for both Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and Cantor said it was the president’s fault the House hadn’t acted — and they seemed to indicate, in perhaps the strongest language to date, that House Republicans have no intention of acting on immigration this year.

“The speaker has made clear many times that common-sense, step-by-step immigration reform is an important priority,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Boehner. “Unfortunately, by regularly ignoring and manipulating laws like Obamacare, President Obama has created an environment in which too many question whether he can be trusted to follow whatever law is passed. Getting anything done will be difficult until the president changes his approach.”

Rory Cooper, a spokesman for Cantor, had a similar message.

“Leader Cantor has repeatedly said he opposes the Senate immigration bill and their amnesty efforts, and it will not be considered by the House. Partisan statements like this one contribute to the distrust that makes reform difficult.”

House leaders always said the Senate bill was dead-on-arrival in the House, and Boehner said he had no intention of conferencing any House immigration legislation with the Senate-passed bill. But House leaders were aiming to get some component of an immigration overhaul through Congress this year — that is, until Republicans pushed back on the idea.

Democrats issued similar statements throughout the day.

Sens. Charles E. Schumer of New York, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado, the four Democratic members of the Senate “gang of 8″ that wrote the immigration measure, also urged the House Republicans to act.

“The success of the Gang of 8 proved that compromise, cooperation, and bipartisanship are not only possible, but also necessary to get the job done,” the senators said in a statement. “We’re forever proud and grateful to have been part of the cohort that hammered out a strong bipartisan immigration reform effort in the Senate. Despite being so close to permanently fixing our broken system once and for all, the path forward continues to be inexcusably stalled in the House of Representatives. It is our sincere hope that House Republicans move away from extremes so that commonsense immigration reform can be finally pushed over the finish line.”

With House Republicans seemingly content to do nothing on immigration until the next election, and Obama signaling that House inaction makes it more likely, not less, that he will issue executive orders to deal with issues including immigration, Republicans and the president appear at loggerheads on the immigration — and that doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon.

  • papal

    Comprehensive Immigration Reform is a dem “wedge issue”.. They all profess to support it but never brought it up while they controlled congress. They could have pass any amnesty bill they wanted and didn’t even bring it up. The dems like using it as an issue and solving the problem would eliminate the issue. So the dems rather it to continue to be an issue with no solution. The dems also created this false narrative about Obama high deportations. Facts are the administration is cooking the books by counting apprehensions as deportations It will continue until the ignorant illegal immigrants figure out they have been used by the dems simply as a issue.

  • Cheryl Thomas

    The Republicans who are attacking the very people who have to vote should not be attacked. Perhaps the President is angry that there are some Republicans who do not see how foolish it is to give money to other countries and deny people in their own country to have the money that they need. I know that the extended unemployment issue will not go away because, people at the city level and the state level and our country level will keep writing until this gets fixed. How can you take money out of your house (country), and give it some else, and not want to give money to the people in your house (country) We have not forgotten about money being given to Ukraine. What about unemployed Americans and all of Americans, with needs? I don’t blame all Republicans I just think that they have fear of being seen as siding with Democrats, that’s wrong, you are siding to see that people in this country get the money that they need so they can use it in the pursuit of happiness. Feeding their families, getting some clothes to wear to a job, and the big one, MONEY TO GET TO THE INTERVIEW /JOB BY THEIR OWN CAR OR BUS. We need this money. Follow your heart as a human being, and not your party. Do what you can to help, when you do that, you will find yourself most proud, for you will have considered another person besides yourself. This is meant for all parties in all decisions
    that need the correct answer.

  • Nicholas DeLuca

    In the minds of the GOP/TP it is “partisan” to asked them to govern, to take legislative action, to do the people’s business . They will not act because they know it will hurt their election chances. Instead they choose to dissemble , delay and deny.

    • Ray Prescott

      They should enforce the laws but Barry would rather play games and allow amnesty by exec order.

  • Santiago Alemedia

    The Comprehensive Immigration Bill is about immigration reform as much as the Patriot Act was about patriotism, NAFTA about saving American jobs.

    They are talking about a Comprehensive AMNESTY bill and I hope not all in Congress are willing to let this slide on through like they were sold the Iraq War.

    If the president will recall, Congress makes the laws, the President carries them out. If there’s a problem here, it’s that we have a president making his own law and refusing to enforce laws already on the books.

    Perhaps the President will show his sincerity for complete reform by using his executive actions to revive enforcement for employers who hire illegals, restore workplace ICE raids, to advance employee verification, to make sure that only those here legally get the few new jobs that are available. He could also insist that those who commit visa fraud and those who were previously deported but caught in the US again were prosecuted fully instead of issued another citation. That would go a long way to show his sincerity about comprehensive reform.

  • 10000thVoteOfRepCongress

    Republican congress should vote 1000 times between now and nov 4 ,2014 barring any democrat and a black form becoming president of USA again. PERIOD. vote vote vote adn vote congress.

  • Rob Erta

    Sickness and death: Illegal aliens have imported river blindness, pork tapeworm, and tuberculosis.

  • Zere Ochs

    Thirteen-year-old Laura Ayala was abducted by an illegal alien in Houston in March 2002. She has never been found.

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