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Immigration dispute erupts at White House lunch
Observer Online Desk
Publish Date : 2014-11-08,  Publish Time : 17:02,  View Count : 10
WASHINGTON: A White House lunch aiming for cooperation boiled into a fresh dispute with newly empowered Republicans over immigration reform with GOP leaders warning President Barack Obama to his face not to take unilateral action. The president stood unflinchingly by his plan to act.

Republicans attending the post-election lunch at Obama's invitation said they asked him for more time to work on legislation, but the president said his patience was running out. He underscored his intent to act on his own by the end of the year if they don't approve legislation to ease deportations before then and send it to him to sign.

The White House said Obama laid out three areas where he and Congress could work together before the end of the year — emergency funding to combat the Ebola outbreak, approval of a federal budget and quick action on spending to fight the Islamic State militant group.

House Speaker John Boehner's office said he told Obama he was ready to work with the president on a new authorization for military force against the IS group if the president worked to build bipartisan support.

The White House announced soon after lunch ended that the U.S. was sending as many as 1,500 more troops to Iraq to serve as advisers, trainers and security personnel as part of the mission. Obama is also asking Congress for more than $5 billion to help fund the fight.

Friday's two-hour meeting was tense at times, according to a senior House Republican aide. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, about to lose his grip on the upper chamber, barely said a word, the aide said.

The aide said at one point as House Speaker John Boehner was making an argument on immigration, Obama responded that his patience was running out and Vice President Joe Biden interrupted to ask how long Republicans needed. Obama angrily cut Biden off, the aide said.

Briefings on Ebola and the Islamic State from Pentagon officials dominated much of the meeting, and the immigration debate was said to have lasted about half an hour. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said Republicans told Obama that any executive order, particularly on immigration but any issue, would be a "toxic decision."

"He still hasn't come to grips with the reality of the election and the consequences of the election," Barrasso said. "His tone and tenor didn't seem to reflect that of somebody whose policies were just significantly rejected all across the country just three days ago."

AP/ZA





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