White House press secretary Josh Earnest’s assertion that political considerations played no role in President Barack Obama’s decision to go it alone on immigration wasn’t believable to one reporter, whose skepticism prompted laughter from colleagues during Tuesday’s briefing.
Obama said Monday he was frustrated with congressional inaction on immigration reform and planned to act alone because of “the failure of the House Republicans to pass a darn bill.”
On Tuesday, Major Garrett of CBS News said it seemed like the president “declared something basically everyone already knew to shift the terms of the debate politically. Is that a fair characterization?”
Earnest objected, saying a bipartisan immigration reform bill that passed the Senate had a chance in the House, particularly since House Speaker John Boehenr (R-Ohio) had voiced support for it.
“You know that option is no longer available when the speaker of the House comes to the White House, looks the president of the United States in the eye and says this is no longer an option,” Earnest said.
“And this will have a political effect how for the White House in the fall?” Garrett asked.
“I have no idea. That’s not really the consequence of —” Earnest said.
Garrett interrupted, “Yes you do.”
At that point, the press briefing room erupted in laughter.
Garrett continued, “You saw a definite political reaction. When you do this, you are engaged in something that is going to have political reaction.”
“I have no doubt that there are a wide range of political analysts out there, some of who would say the president acting on his own to try to reform the broken immigration system, some will say it makes a lot of good political sense for the president to do so,” Earnet replied. “I’m sure there are those who would say that’s not in the best interest of Democrats who are on the ballot in 2014. The fact of the matter is that’s not who the president is listening to.”
This story will be updated with video.
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