Another White House vs. GOP Immigration Spat

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • WELL, THAT DIDN'T GO WELL: President Obama phoned House Majority Leader Eric Cantor yesterday to implore the GOP's floor guardian to take up the Senate's comprehensive immigration legislation, but judging by Cantor's response, there's no way that is happening, ABC's JOHN PARKINSON notes. "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, R-Va., stated. "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."
  • 'HOUSE REPUBLICANS HAVE VOTED FOR EXTREME MEASURES': Earlier Wednesday, in a statement marking one year since the Senate bill was first introduced, Obama took Cantor and House Republicans to task for sitting on the bill for more than nine months. "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 stated. "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.'"
  • BACKSTORY: Tuesday, in a meeting with faith leaders, Obama reportedly ruled out taking executive action himself to overhaul the country's immigration laws, particularly with regard to the enforcement of deportations. Now, the Senate's historic legislation appears more likely than ever to expire at the end of the 113th Congress. A White House press aide refused to discuss the conversation, and a Cantor spokeswoman would not elaborate further than the majority leader's statement.


CAN $50 MILLION BUY MICHAEL BLOOMBERG GUN CONTROL? Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has invested millions of his own fortune into the push for stricter gun laws. Now he's upping the ante by pledging up to $50 million this year alone to a newly formed gun control organization that hopes to rival the influence of the powerful National Rifle Association, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ notes. Bloomberg's group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has joined forces with Moms Demand Action under a new umbrella group, Everytown for Gun Safety. The group's goals are to expand background checks at the state and federal levels and drive one million gun control supporters to the voting booths in November. "What we are building here is a counter weight to the gun lobby. The truth is that the gun lobby has had this territory to themselves both in Washington and in state houses across the country and our job is to change that," John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said yesterday during a conference call. "I think the NRA should be very afraid of Americans, who've had enough of the gun violence in this country and in particular moms," Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action and a board member for Everytown for Gun Safety, said. "Moms are afraid our children will be taken away and in the end, I think that's the emotion that will win the debate." But the new organization, whose board includes billionaire Warren Buffett and former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, has a heavy lift ahead as it looks to challenge the NRA, which carries heavy political influence with lawmakers in conservative states.

OBAMA COUNSELS STUDENTS ON OPTIONS TO A 4-YEAR DEGREE. It would be a cultural shift, but the Obama administration is hoping to change the perception of two- and four-year universities and what is needed for success, ABC's SERENA MARSHALL and CHRIS GOOD report. Through two new skills-training programs, utilizing grant money announced in 2010, the administration is encouraging a competition to foster courses developed by industry at the community college level and an apprentice job scholarship program. President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden appeared at a community college in Pittsburgh yesterday to announce $500 million in grant funding for community college job-training programs and $100 million in funding for apprenticeship grants. Speaking in an auto bay where students at the Community College of Allegheny County learn "mechatronics" - "It sounds like something Godzilla would be fighting," Obama said - the two elaborated on the need for middle-class opportunities and presented a view of a rebounding U.S. economy in which companies are ready to add jobs but are having trouble finding skilled workers to fill them.

LAWYERS WHO CLEARED CHRISTIE DONATED TO RGA BEFORE REPORT RELEASED. The law firm that wrote the Chris Christie-sponsored report clearing the governor of any wrongdoing in the New Jersey bridge scandal made a sizable donation to the Republican Governors Association, which Christie heads, days before the report's release. The law firm of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher donated $10,000 to the RGA nine days before it released a report - paid for by New Jersey taxpayers - blaming September's lane closures to the George Washington Bridge solely on aides and allies and pinned no responsibility on the governor, as reported yesterday in The Record of North Jersey. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher lawyers were paid $650 per hour for their work examining documents surrounding the lane closure that led to their report released March 24. The law firm made its donation to the RGA March 18, according to tax records.

-RGA PRESS SECRETARY JON THOMPSON TOLD ABC NEWS: "The RGA raises funds to elect and support Republican governors. We had a large amount of donations from many individuals and entities across the country because they support the pro-jobs, pro-growth agendas 29 Republican governors are delivering for their states."

MICHELE BACHMANN'S 5 PIECES OF ADVICE TO YOUNG CONSERVATIVES. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., the conservative firebrand and former presidential candidate, gave the keynote address today at Liberty University's weekly Convocation. It was Bachmann's third time speaking at Liberty, the world's largest private Christian college and home to over 100,000 students. In her speech, the self-proclaimed "Constitutional Conservative" who is retiring at the end of the year urged her young listeners to focus on the "things that really matter" politically and personally. Bachmann gave young conservatives a few key pieces of advice, notes ABC's ALINA KLEINEIDAM.


CONGRESS GONE WILD? LAWMAKERS TAKE ON SPRING BREAK. Congress' annual two-week Spring vacation from the nation's capital is well underway, and many of the 535 lawmakers are following the tradition of sharing their wild (and in some cases, mild) experiences via social media, according to ABC's ERIN DOOLEY, ALEXANDER MALLIN and RYAN STRUYK. What exactly does Spring Break mean for a typical Washington politician? From what we found, it's fairly clear that most of them graduated from college a long time ago - although New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker did spend some time back in high school this week. Meanwhile, Rep. Jared Polis, D-Co., tweeted a photo of himself with a mouthful of matzah (it's Passover, after all - Chag Sameach!) and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., strapped on some sneakers to train for next week's Boston Marathon. Then there were Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who took to Twitter to share photos from their Eurotrip with Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., to Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. Nothing says spring break like ocean-side military protocols.


THE 'NO SIZZLE' POLITICIAN: WHY TOM VILSACK IS A GOOD CABINET SECRETARY, BUT FIZZLED AS A PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL. Tom Vilsack may still have presidential dreams, but don't expect him to be a candidate in 2016. "I don't have sizzle," the current Secretary of Agriculture and former Democratic governor of Iowa told ABC's JEFF ZELENY, host of "The Fine Print" when asked if he'd consider running for president again. Vilsack was the first to announce his candidacy in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, but said that campaign, "absent some cataclysmic event," was his last. "I remember very distinctly visiting with a labor leader friend of mine during all of that, and he looked at me and said, 'you know, you just don't have sizzle,'" Vilsack said with a laugh. WATCH:


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