House Majority Leader Eric Cantor detailed what sounded like a rather tense phone call he had with President Barack Obama about immigration reform Wednesday.
The call came hours after Obama issued a terse statement attacking House Republicans for failing to move on the issue one year after a bipartisan “gang of eight” introduced a bill that eventually passed the Senate.
Soon after, Cantor released his own statement in which he said Obama doesn’t know how to work with Congress. Cantor seemed particularly dismayed Obama’s phone call expressing his desire for immigration reform came just hours after the “partisan statement” that “indicated no sincere desire to work together.”
“Today, President Obama called me to discuss his desire for comprehensive immigration reform. 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. “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.”
The Senate’s immigration bill, which passed last July, has been rejected by House Republicans. Cantor indicated that position won’t change. House Republicans have signaled a preference to take a piecemeal approach to immigration legislation, but they have yet to hold votes on any measures.
More than 190 House Democrats have signed a “discharge petition” in an attempt to force a vote on the Senate bill, but they have no path to get to the required majority of signatures. Many Democrats and immigration advocates have urged Obama to take executive action on certain measures like deportations. However, by doing so the President would severely complicate already-thin prospects for comprehensive reform.
“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,” he said. “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.”
There was no immediate readout of the call from the White House.
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