An offer by congressional Republicans to work on immigration reform in January was flatly rejected by President Barack Obama, reports said Friday.
At a post-midterm election lunch and meeting that lasted two hours, House Speaker John Boehner warned Obama not to take executive action to stem deportations or allow a flood of new immigrants to enter the country, the Washington Examiner reports.
“The speaker warned that unilateral action by the president on executive amnesty will erase any chances of doing immigration reform and will also make it harder for Congress and the White House to work together successfully on other areas where there might otherwise be common ground,” a spokesman told the newspaper.
Instead, Boehner asked Obama to let Republicans work on reforming and modernizing immigration early in the new session, Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso told Reuters.
According to Reuters, an unnamed congressional source said Vice President Joe Biden asked Boehner how long he needed to pass a bill: “Feb. 15? March 15?” The source said Obama was visibly irritated and stopped Biden.
But a Democratic congressional source disputed that account, telling the news service, “At no time did the President cut off the Vice President.” The source described Obama as “courteous and firm” during the immigration discussion.
Afterward, Maryland Democrat Rep. Steny Hoyer told CNN Obama’s right to move ahead with immigration reform, saying: “Families are being wrenched apart, children are being left without a parent or parents, and that is unacceptable. But he also made it very clear that if the Congress acted, that would be the law, that would be the preferable option that he wants.”
Reuters said the lunch with congressional leaders was “somber and slightly uncomfortable during a brief 4-minute photo op,” with Obama squeezed between Boehner and Nevada Democrat Sen. Harry Reid, who’ll give up his title as Senate majority leader in the new Congress because of the wave of Republicans who’ve swept Democrats from power.