President Obama has done his part to move on immigration reform and Republicans have dropped the ball, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said on Sunday.
As some Republicans have blamed a lack of trust with Obama for not being able to make progress on the issue, Ellison says the president’s track record speaks for itself.
Ellison, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerLobbyists expect boom times under Trump Last Congress far from ‘do-nothing’ Top aide: Obama worried about impeachment for Syria actions MORE’s (R-Ohio) shift on immigration comes from pressure within the party leader’s own flock.
“It's obvious the Speaker got a lot of pushback from somebody within his caucus who [he] has to listen to. And so he changed course,” he said. “I don't think it's political courage. And I was really disappointed.”
Two weeks ago, House GOP leadership released its principals for immigration reform, with BoehnerJohn BoehnerLobbyists expect boom times under Trump Last Congress far from ‘do-nothing’ Top aide: Obama worried about impeachment for Syria actions MORE saying, “It’s important to act on immigration reform because we’re focused on jobs and economic growth, and this about jobs and growth.”
By last Thursday, however, the Speaker announced it was unlikely to come up in 2014.
On the same program, Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.), the House Republican chief deputy whip, said the debate over immigration isn’t yet finished.
“We've begun the dialogue and a conversation inside the Republican conference on this. I think that's good. I think step-by-step progress,” he said, dismissing the idea that Boehner was coerced by one person.
“I was at the conference where this was discussed. And I will tell you there is a great deal of skepticism and concern,” Cole said.
While the Senate moved on comprehensive immigration reform, the House has been focused on splitting the issue into smaller parts – passing individual legislation for improved high-skilled work visa programs, border security and increased visa options for agriculture workers.
“So I think there's still a path there [with individual issues], but I think that's recognizing political reality, there's a lot of division on the issue,” he said.