A leak over the weekend of a White House immigration plan has angered House and Senate Republicans, who called it partisan, counterproductive and a nonstarter.
The draft proposal, which would allow illegal immigrants to apply for a “Lawful Prospective Immigrant” visa, is “dead on arrival” on Capitol Hill, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said in a statement.
The plan would also boost border security funding and expand the E-Verify program that allows employers to check job applicants’ immigration status, according to USA Today, which first reported the proposal Sunday.
Asked on “Meet the Press” whether the plan would fail on Capitol Hill, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., replied: “Of course. Of course it will. And that’s why we are working together, Republicans and Democrats.” McCain and Rubio are members of a bipartisan Senate “gang of eight” drafting its own immigration overhaul.
Also on “Meet the Press,” White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said the administration is “aggressively supporting” immigration talks on Capitol Hill. However, he added, “If those do not work out, then we’ll have an option that we’ll be ready to put up there.”
But McCain and other Republicans complained that the story appeared to be deliberately leaked.
“Leaks don’t happen in Washington by accident,” McCain said, adding: “Does the president really want a result? Or does he want another cudgel to beat up Republicans so he can gain advantage in the next election?”
Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” sounded a similar note.
“Putting these details out, that tells us that he’s looking for a partisan advantage and not a bipartisan solution,” said Ryan, who called the disclosure “very counterproductive.”
Another “gang of eight” member, Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., stressed that the White House had signaled that the proposal was a draft, not a final bill. In a meeting with the bipartisan group of senators last week, Schumer said, President Barack Obama “agreed to give us space.”
“The only way to get something done is with a bipartisan agreement,” he said.
But GOP reaction suggested that reports of a White House draft plan may have complicated negotiations over an immigration overhaul. On “Fox News Sunday,” Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul summed up GOP sentiment: “This is the president torpedoing his own plan. It shows me that he’s not really serious.”