Valerie Jarrett, one of President Barack Obama's most trusted and longest-serving advisers, said Friday the White House was "open to the idea" of individual pieces of legislation to deal with immigration, a process that is favored by most House Republicans.
That means he is "not wedded to" the "comprehensive" package that was passed by the Senate, which Obama has long said he would sign if it came to his desk.
At a press breakfast in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, Jarrett, senior adviser to the president, told Newsmax that Obama "looks forward to the new leadership" that was elected Thursday by House Republicans.
Regarding the stunning primary defeat of outgoing Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., that triggered his resignation from leadership and Thursday's elections of a new House GOP leadership team, Jarrett noted that "nobody has said his defeat was due to [Cantor's support for] immigration reform." But she quickly added, "There is new leadership, so let's get going on immigration reform."
Agreeing that most Republican members of the House are committed to passing several individual bills dealing with different aspects of immigration reform instead of a complete package such as that enacted by the Senate, Jarrett told reporters, "We are open to the idea of the House having individual pieces of legislation."
But she warned that the administration would not look kindly upon House enactment of single pieces of legislation that deal with "border security only or high-tech immigration only," without a companion bill "that focuses on a path to citizenship" for illegal immigrants already in the United States.
Jarrett also left little doubt that the president would prefer the comprehensive package to what she referred to as a "piecemeal" approach of passing several individual bills.
If called to a vote in the House, she predicted, "the Senate bill would pass," and the president would sign it.
She also said there is "enormous support" for the Senate package from "the business community, the faith-based community, and the law-enforcement community."
Jarrett revealed that she recently had a private dinner with conservative publisher Rupert Murdoch, and said, "I was struck by Rupert's passion on the issue of immigration reform. Good policy makes strange bedfellows sometimes."
As to whether the president would use his executive orders to implement portions of the Senate immigration package if the House doesn't deal with the issue, she said coyly: "The president does not want to relieve [the House] of their opportunity. Let's see them take action."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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