Republicans in Congress emerged from a bi-partisan lunch at the White House on Friday steadfast in their opposition to President Obama taking executive action on immigration, but open to working together on other issues like Ebola and combating ISIS.
“We talked about the idea of trying to move forward,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said after the meeting. “We also expressed to him if more executive actions are taken, that would make it difficult to work together. We think we should start with a fresh start.”
Both incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner used post-election press conferences to warn the president that acting unilaterally on immigration would only further pollute their already toxic relationship.
The president has called on the GOP-led House to vote on a comprehensive immigration bill passed by the Senate in 2013 and said he is only acting alone because Congress has proved unwilling to address the issue.
Early indicators show the post-election pow-wow did little to change either sides' thinking.
"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," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said in a statement.
Ahead of the meeting, Obama outlined two specific areas he hoped to make progress -- increased funding to stop the spread of Ebola and to combat ISIS. Both parties also emerged from the meeting optimistic that agreement could be reached on a new Congressional authorization to fight ISIS.
“My hope is, is that even as we enter into a new Congress, the previous Congress has the opportunity still to make progress on a whole bunch of fronts, and I'm confident we can get that done,” Obama told reporters ahead of the meeting.
-- Andrew Rafferty and Alex Moe