Obama Post Election Meeting

The House Majority Leader says it would be difficult for the GOP and President Obama to work together if he follows through with his plans to take executive action on immigration. (AP)

By Ed O’Keefe
November 7, 2014 at 7:28 PM

President Obama firmly rejected advice from top congressional Republicans on Friday that he delay his promised executive action on immigration reform, dismissing calls from critics inside and outside his party to allow Congress to debate the issue next year.

Over a two-hour lunch of Bibb lettuce salad, herb-crusted sea bass and pumpkin tart, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and their lieutenants warned Obama that his acting alone on immigration would spoil chances for bipartisan agreement on other issues in the new GOP-controlled Congress.

Seated with 12 top members of the House and Senate in the Old Family Dining Room, Obama shot back that he intended to proceed, saying that he had already waited almost two years for congressional action on immigration. He added that his decision should not upend chances for cooperation on unrelated matters, according to aides familiar with the exchange.

The new focus on Obama’s plans to revamp the immigration system by executive fiat came as the president is reportedly reviewing proposals to allow as many as 5 million illegal immigrants to stay in the United States at least temporarily, according to several people familiar with his plans. He is expected to announce his intentions after returning from a visit to China, Burma and Australia, either this month or in early December, said those familiar with the subject, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Obama’s immigration pledge became political grist for Republican congressional candidates, who opposed his decision to act unilaterally. And after a dismal Democratic showing in the midterm elections Tuesday, David Axelrod, a former Obama adviser who remains close to the president, suggested via Twitter that Obama should “shelve” his plans to take action in hopes of an “up or down vote” in the House.

But congressional Democrats and immigration-reform activists insisted that Obama will proceed. Some have expressed regret that he has not already acted.

“He should do it. . . . Just get it done,” said Rep. Joe Garcia (D), a first-term lawmaker who lost reelection on Tuesday in his South Florida district.

Garcia lost to Carlos Curbelo, a Miami-Dade County School Board member who snatched back a seat that Republicans lost two years ago. In an interview, Garcia said that instead of settling the immigration issue by taking action, Obama had allowed “a sustained, continuous conversation” among Democrats to fester, exposing intraparty divisions.

“Republicans not only were bad on immigration at the beginning of the year, they were bad during the year, they were bad at the end of the year,” Garcia said. “At the same time, we’re being woodshopped for not moving on the executive order, and that’s why he should have just done it.”

To read entire story, click here.