On Sunday, Republicans lashed out at a leaked draft of the White House’s plan to reform the immigration system.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said any proposal from the president that lacked Republican input would be “dead on arrival” and is “hurting the effort” at reform. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) claimed that Obama was looking for a “partisan advantage” on the issue and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced that the draft demonstrated that “the president doesn’t want immigration reform.”
But as White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough made clear during appearances on several Sunday talk shows, Obama is committed to immigration reform but is developing a back-up plan, to be used only in the event that talks “break down.” Short of negotiation failure, the White House stands firmly behind bipartisan congressional negotiations:
BOB SCHIEFFER: So is this a new plan the president is circulating?
MCDONOUGH: I think the report said … it has been circulating inside the administration. And I think the president laid out in Las Vegas last week we will be prepared with our own plans if the talks between Republicans and Democrats on the Hill break down. There is no evidence they have broken down. We continue to support that. We are involved in those efforts by providing technical assistance and providing them ideas and i hope Republicans and Democrats up there don’t get involved in a kind of typical Washington back-and-forth sideshow here and rather roll up their sleeves and get to work on writing a comprehensive immigration bill.
McDonough added on Meet the Press that the White House is doing what it always said it would do in “aggressively supporting” Hill negotiations, while developing its own back-up proposal that includes the core elements of comprehensive immigration reform: continued strengthening of the borders, crackdowns on businesses that game the system, a path to citizenship, and reasonable opportunities for legal immigration.
USA Today reports that Obama’s draft mirrors the 2007 bipartisan immigration proposal backed by President George W. Bush and Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). But as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) admitted during an appearance on ABC’s This Week, Republicans are unlikely to support any plan with Obama’s name on it — even if it incorporates many of their own proposals.