House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Wednesday that President Barack Obama called him to discuss comprehensive immigration reform within hours of attacking Republicans for stalling the effort in the House.
"After five years, President Obama still has not learned how to effectively work with Congress to get things done," Cantor said. "You do not attack the very people you hope to engage in a serious dialogue."
He said that Obama's attack on the GOP "indicated no sincere desire to work together."
Obama called the No. 2 Republican in the House on the first anniversary of the bipartisan Gang of Eight senators introducing their immigration reform bill. The legislation
was passed by the Senate in June on a 68-32 vote.
But the bill has faced strong opposition in the House, where Speaker John Boehner
vowed that the lower chamber would not take an "Obamacare-like" approach to immigration reform — favoring a "step-by-step, common-sense approach" instead.
Obama praised the Senate's move but slammed House Republicans for their inaction.
"Both sides worked together to pass that bill with a strong bipartisan vote," the president said. "Simply put, it would boost our economy, strengthen our security, and live up to our most closely held values as a society."
He said the GOP-controlled House had "repeatedly failed to take action, seemingly preferring the status quo of a broken immigration system over meaningful reform."
Obama attacked Republicans for supporting "extreme measures like a punitive amendment to strip protections from 'Dreamers'" — young people brought to the U.S. as small children who have remained here illegally.
"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," Obama said.
But Cantor reiterated the House's opposition to the Senate immigration bill.
"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," he said.
The majority leader added that he told Obama of "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," Cantor said.
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