House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says that he and President Barack Obama clashed Wednesday during a phone conversation about immigration reform.
But the White House has a different story.
One year after the Senate introduced its comprehensive immigration bill, which passed the upper chamber but has not been taken up by the GOP-led House, Obama issued a written statement criticizing Republican leaders for failing to take up the legislation. “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 said.
Then Obama called Cantor, who blasted out a statement making clear that he was no fan of Obama’s message.
“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 in a statement. “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 Virginia Republican reiterated that the House has no intention of taking up the Senate’s reform bill, which many GOP lawmakers call unfair “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants.
However, a White House official described the call as “pleasant” and said they were surprised by how Cantor’s staff had characterized the exchange. The call was imitated so that the president could wish the House Majority Leader a happy Passover, according to the official.
But Cantor’s version of the conversation did not mention any well wishes.
“I told the President the same thing I told him the last time we spoke,” Cantor said. “House Republicans do not support Senate Democrats' immigration bill and amnesty efforts, and it will not be considered in the House.”
First published April 16 2014, 2:12 PM