McCain: Obama Hasn't Spoken to GOP on Immigration

Sunday, 17 Feb 2013 02:53 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Sen. John McCain said President Barack Obama has not yet spoken with Senate Republicans about immigration, even though a bipartisan group is trying to bring together a comprehensive plan on the issue.

McCain, appearing on NBC's “Meet the Press” Sunday, told the panel he has yet to hear from Obama, although the president met with four Democratic senators at the White House just last week to discuss the proposal.

“He's had no communication with Republicans on the issue, unlike the previous four presents that I've dealt with,” the Arizona Republican, who is a chief negotiator on the immigration matter, complained.

On Saturday, USA Today published an article online revealing that a draft bill will allow illegal immigrants to apply for newly created "Lawful Prospective Immigrant" visas. The bill would also provide more security funding and require that businesses verify the immigration status of new hires within four years, according to the report.

McCain said the leaked reports about the president's plan, combined with Obama's lack of communication, is raising questions among Republican lawmakers.

“We are working together. Republicans and Democrats,” McCain said. “I believe we are making progress on a bipartisan basis. I believe we can come up with a product.”

But McCain said he has some doubts about the leaked report.

“Leaks don't happen in Washington by accident,” McCain said. “Does the president really want a result, or does (he) want another cudgel to beat up Republicans so that he can get political advantage in the next election?

Denis McDonough, the new White House chief of staff, said Sunday on the show that the president is simply drafting a fallback plan to propose if Congress fails to act. He added that the White House staff is reaching out to all eight members in the Senate group.

Further, McDonough said, the Obama administration is “aggressively supporting” bipartisan talks, and the administration is committed to the approach the president outlined in his State of the Union address last Tuesday.

We want to continue building on the great strides we've made on border security,” McDonough said. “We want to make sure that we're cracking down on businesses that game the system. We want there to be an earned path to citizenship. And we also want the legal system, which frankly is too cumbersome and too broken, we want that to be reformed as well. And we're going to continue to push exactly that.”

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