During Wednesday’s post-election press conference, CBS News’ Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett pressed President Obama over his insistence that he will pass amnesty through executive order by year’s end rather than work with the new Republican Senate:
Let me go back to immigration, moments before you walked out here, sir, Mitch McConnell said, and I quote, “That if you, in fact, use your executive authority to legalize a certain number of millions of undocumented workers, it would poison the well” direct quote, “and it will be like waving a red flag in front of a bull.” Do you not believe that is the considered opinion of the new Republican majority in the House and Senate? And do you also not believe what they have said, in the aftermath of last night’s results, that the verdict rendered by voters should stop you or should prevent you from taking this action because it was a subtext in many of the campaigns.
Garrett peppered the president with several questions, prompting Obama to actually write them down:
I think, Major, that I answered the question on immigration. I have no doubt that there will be some Republicans who are angered or frustrated by an executive action that I may take. Those are folks, I just have to say, who are also deeply opposed to immigration reform, in any form and blocked the House from being able to pass a bi-partisan bill.
The president went on to say that he believed John Boehner was sincere about passing immigration reform, which is why Obama held off for a year without taking any action to give the Speaker “space and room to get something done.”
If in fact, there is a great eagerness on the part of Republicans to tackle a broken immigration system, then they have every opportunity to do it. My executive actions not only do not prevent them from passing a law that supersedes those actions, but should be a spur for them to actually get something done. And I am prepared to engage them every step of the way with their ideas.
Obama cited this past summer’s events of unaccompanied immigrant children crossing the border as a “very temporary and isolated event.” He insisted that America has fewer illegal immigrants entering the country than we did 5, 10, and 20 years ago. Garrett interrupted to say that the election was a referendum on the president’s intention to use executive authority for immigration.
As I’ve said before, I don’t want to try to read the tea leaves on election results. What I am going to try to do is, as president, is to make sure that I’m advancing what I think is best for the country and here’s an opportunity where I can use my administrative authorities, executive authorities, and lawfully try to make improvements on the existing system understanding that that’s not going to fix the entire problem and we’re much better off if we go ahead and pass a comprehensive bill. And I hope that the Republicans really want to get it passed. If they do, they’re going to have a lot of cooperation from me.
Obama went on to talk about the Keystone pipeline for several minutes before wrapping up his time with Garrett. “Whoo. Major, Major works me man,” said Obama before calling on another reporter.
Image credit: White House video screenshot
BCN editor’s note: This article first appeared at Western Journalism.