Updated 6:00 P.M. EST
On Wednesday, Eric Cantor strongly suggested immigration reform won’t come up in the House of Representatives after he received a phone call from President Barack Obama.
“House Republicans do not support Senate Democrats’ immigration bill and amnesty efforts, and it will not be considered in the House,” the Republican majority leader said in a statement after the call. He accused the president of engaging in “partisan messaging” and offered no indication that the House intends to act on the issue. His full statement is below.
“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. 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. 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. 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 who are struggling to make ends meet in this economy.”
The Obama statement that Cantor referred to came earlier in the day, pegged to the one-year anniversary of the introduction of the Senate immigration bill, which passed the upper chamber last June. The president lamented that House GOP leaders had “repeatedly failed” to act on the issue since then, and attacked them for passing “extreme” measures to require deportation of people brought to the country illegally as children.
The White House was surprised by Cantor’s statement.
“The President called Leader Cantor to wish him a happy Passover and the topic of immigration came up,” a White House official said. “It was a pleasant call, we are surprised by the staff readout which didn’t reflect the call.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office also chimed in, calling Cantor’s statement “ridiculous.”
“In response to the President’s renewed call for action on comprehensive immigration reform, Congressman Cantor once again offered only excuses for inaction,” said Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesman. “With 30 House Republicans on the record in support of comprehensive reform, Rep. Cantor’s ridiculous statement this evening confirms that the Republican leadership continues to stand in the way of legislation that would pass the House immediately if allowed to come to the floor.”