Obama and Cantor Clash on Immigration Overhaul

Apr 16, 2014 6:10pm

Well, that didn’t go well.

President Obama phoned House Majority Leader Eric Cantor today 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.

“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.”

Earlier today, 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.’”

Obama added that “the majority of Americans are ahead of House Republicans on this crucial issue,” citing “broad support” for overhaul.

“We have a chance to strengthen our country while upholding our traditions as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants, and I urge House Republicans to listen to the will of the American people and bring immigration reform to the House floor for a vote,” he wrote.

In his statement reacting to the phone call, Cantor said he flatly told the president that “House Republicans do not support Senate Democrats’ immigration bill and amnesty efforts, and it will not be considered in the House.”

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.

After the Obama administration made several delays to certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act, House Republicans grew suspicious of dealing with the president on immigration overhaul, suggesting that they do not trust him to enforce legislation sent to his desk by the letter of the law.

Instead, Cantor says the president could do himself a favor by rebuilding his relationship with House Republicans through bipartisan collaboration on jobs legislation.

“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,” Cantor wrote.

A White House press aide refused to discuss the conversation, and a Cantor spokeswoman would not elaborate further than the majority leader’s statement.

ABC News’ Serena Marshall contributed to this report.

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