Obama 'commends' GOP senators on immigration reform

President Obama reached out on Tuesday to the Republican members of the bipartisan group of senators that crafted a framework for passing immigration reform.

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Obama called Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to discuss progress on passing immigration reform. The three senators are part of the so-called Gang of Eight, which unveiled a framework for passing immigration reform in late January.

Obama recently sat down with the Democratic members of the group to discuss progress on passing immigration reform.

"This afternoon, the President placed calls to Sen. Graham, Sen. McCain, and Sen. Rubio to discuss their shared commitment to bipartisan, commonsense immigration reform and to commend the Senators for the bipartisan progress that continues to be made by the Gang of Eight on this important issue," a statement from the White House said.

Obama did not speak with Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), the fourth Republican member of the group, who was traveling, according to the White House.

The phone calls between the Republicans and Obama came a few hours after the White House and Rubio's office traded accusations about communication over immigration reform. Rubio's office said earlier on Tuesday that White House staffers had not been in contact with Rubio or his office about immigration reform, but the White House said its staffers had met with Rubio's office.

"During the calls, which build on conversations that have taken place at the staff level, the President reiterated that he remains supportive of the effort underway in Congress, and that he hopes that they can produce a bill as soon as possible that reflects shared core principles on reform," the statement continued.

On Saturday, Rubio criticized the Obama administration after USA Today published leaked details of the administration's proposal for an immigration reform law. Obama has said he would push his own immigration plan if Congress cannot come to an agreement on comprehensive immigration reform.

"As the President made clear when he met with Democratic Senators involved in the process last week, that while he is pleased with the progress and supportive of the effort to date, he is prepared to submit his own legislation if Congress fails to act," the White House statement continued. "He thanked the senators for their leadership, and made clear that he and his staff look forward to continuing to work together with their teams to achieve needed reform."

Graham's office described the conversation between the senator from South Carolina and Obama as "short" and "cordial." Obama called at around 2 p.m., according to Graham's office.

"They discussed the need for immigration reform and why it is important we fix our broken immigration system," Graham spokesman Kevin Bishop said.

Rubio was in Jerusalem when he talked to Obama on Tuesday.

"Sen. Rubio appreciated receiving President Obama's phone call to discuss immigration reform late tonight in Jerusalem," according to Rubio spokesman Alex Conant. "The senator told the president that he feels good about the ongoing negotiations in the Senate, and is hopeful the final product is something that can pass the Senate with strong bipartisan support."