President Obama does not regret waiting on House Republicans to move on immigration reform, despite their failure to do so, the White House said Tuesday.
The president on Monday directed his administration to "fix as much of our immigration system as we can" through executive authority after confirmation from Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerFormer House leader Bob Michel, a person and politician for the ages Former House GOP leader Bob Michel dies at 93 Keystone pipeline builder signs lobbyist MORE (R-Ohio) that Republicans would not move on a comprehensive bill this year.
But the White House maintains it didn't err in waiting for the GOP to act.
Earnest said Obama was "very disappointed" that the GOP was "successful in effectively, at least for now, killing comprehensive immigration reform," but said it was important that they have the chance.
"The real question was whether or not the House Republican leadership was going to have the courage to put it on the floor of the House of Representatives to do the thing that was in the best interests of the United States of America," Earnest said. "And unfortunately, they failed the test."
The White House offered little new insight into what executive actions Obama will undertake. Top allies, including Janet Murguia, the president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, have suggested the president would build off the deferred action program he announced in 2012 that permits certain children who entered the country illegally to remain.
Earnest would say only that Obama "wants to do everything that he can to fix as many problems as he can, stipulating that ... he doesn't have the authority to do as much that legislation would do."
The White House denied Obama's push was political in nature, with Earnest claiming to "have no idea" what type of boost executive actions on the subject could provide the president. In 2012, Obama captured 71 percent of the Hispanic vote, the highest margin by a Democratic candidate since former President Clinton in 1996.
"I have no doubt that there are a wide range of political analysts out there who would ... say it makes a lot of good political sense for the president to do so," Earnest said. "I'm sure there are some out there who would say that that's not in the best interest of Democrats who are on the ballot in 2014."
"I'm sure there are plenty of political opinions out there, and they're certainly entitled to them, but that's not what's guiding the president's decisions," he added.