The White House on Friday criticized Republicans for suggesting they won’t work with President Barack Obama because of his decision to halt deportations for millions of immigrants, calling it “the third-grade equivalent of taking your ball and going home.”
Though Obama’s immigration move came after Republicans had warned him against acting independently, White House Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer said Friday Obama hopes to still with Congress on a broader immigration fix – as well as tax reform and efforts to boost spending on infrastructure.
““He hopes that Republicans do not use (the immigration executive order) as an excuse to not work with us on other issues,” Pfeiffer said. “There’s no reason you should not be doing those things you think are in the best interest of the country where there’s bipartisan agreement because you disagree with this.”
Speaking at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, Pfeiffer said the White House expected a “lot of flak from Republicans and a lot of criticism,” but that Obama would undertake a “very aggressive sales job” on the measure.
That includes an event today in Las Vegas, along with an event Tuesday in Chicago. Obama also taped an interview that will appear Sunday on ABC’s This Week.
“He will be talking about the actions he has taken and he will continue to push Congress to finish the job,” Pfeiffer said.
He said Obama had shown “tremendous patience” with House Speaker John Boehner, but that the House hadn’t taken any steps to address immigration since the 2012 election.
“The idea that now we have a more conservative Congress, that this would be right around the corner, seems far-fetched to me,” Pfeiffer said. “If you can fix the problem, we should do that now.”
Pfeiffer said he believed the temporary bar on deportations – which is good for three years – will prompt an “intense debate” in the 2016 presidential primary, but insisted the three-year time table was set to ensure “more stability in the program,” not to provoke a Republican reaction.
He said Obama’s pitch on immigration will include red states as well as blue, but said “I don’t think Republicans need us to tell them about the presidential election impact of this.”
Pfeiffer wouldn’t say if Obama would embrace immigration reform that falls short of providing a path to citizenship, as he’s insisted.
“Let’s see if they have the ability and willingness to move forward, then we will see what compromise is available,” he said.