President Barack Obama's fancy post-election lunch with congressional leaders Friday turned contentious as expected over the issue of immigration, with the Republicans warning him strongly against taking action on his own and the president in turn pointing out their own failure to act.
Readouts issued by both sides included terse statements, but the issue appears to have taken up a significant portion of the working lunch, which also included talk of funding for war, Ebola and keeping the government open in the lame-duck session to come.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican, said he told Obama "we should tackle immigration reform together on a step-by-step basis, beginning with border security and respect for the rule of law. “Unfortunately the President's promise to unilaterally go around Congress ignores the message voters sent on Election Day. It is my sincere hope that he will reverse course and work with us – not around us – to secure the border and achieve real reforms to our immigration system.”
"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," according to a readout from the office of John A. Boehner, R-Ohio.
The president was having none of it.
"The President reiterated his commitment to taking action on immigration reform in light of the House’s inability to pass a comprehensive bill," the White House said in its readout.
There's already some talk among conservative Republicans of using Congress' power of the purse to block the president's action, but that could lead to a government shutdown, something GOP leaders have hoped to avoid.
Boehner also welcomed Obama's push for a new authorization to use military force (AUMF) targeting ISIS, but suggested that the president propose one and work with the Congress on it. He also pushed for the president to back some of the House Republican-passed bills Boehner says would add jobs.
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