House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Thursday accused Republicans of raising trust issues with President Obama as an excuse to stall immigration reform in the House.
Hoyer was reacting to Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who said Obama cannot be trusted to enforce laws passed by Congress, including ObamaCare.
Cantor's remarks followed a similar statement from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who said it would be "difficult" to move an immigration bill until Obama demonstrates that he can be trusted by Congress.
But Hoyer rejected these as phony arguments, and said that argument is being used to justify the GOP's broad opposition to any immigration reform.
"I don't place much stock in ... what I would call a rationalization of trust," Hoyer said. He noted that Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) has been reported as saying there's "overwhelming" support in the GOP caucus to leave immigration alone this year.
Hoyer added that if the issue is Obama's implementation of immigration laws, Republicans have no reason not to trust him.
"There are less illegal immigrants having come over the border in the last five years than there were during the Bush administration," Hoyer said. "There have been more people deported, in many cases with tragic results of separating families, over the last five years than there were in the Bush administration.
"With all due respect to this, frankly ... this is not a trust issue," Hoyer concluded. "This is an issue of law and the administration's performance both on border security and on enforcing the law."
Still, today's comments from Boehner and Cantor seem to put some pressure on Obama to make more of an effort to convince Republicans to support immigration reform. House Republicans have complained for months about Obama's multiple executive branch delays of ObamaCare deadlines, which has prompted several House members to wonder aloud whether legislation calling for tighter border enforcement, for example, would be enforced by this administration.
Cantor said those sorts of decisions are weighing heavily on the minds of House Republicans and are a real factor that is forcing the GOP to move more slowly on immigration.
"Before we can even get there, there needs to be some trust," he said. "There needs to be some trust built by this president with this Congress, because it seems that the track record is full of examples of the White House and the administration picking and choosing in terms of the regulations, the laws ... and the provisions that it wants to implement."
Cantor and Hoyer also discussed the need to increase the debt ceiling, but Cantor indicated a vote on this would not happen next week. The House is only working for the first half of the week to allow Democrats to attend their annual policy retreat.
When Hoyer asked whether the House would take up a clean debt-limit hike, Cantor did not answer specifically.
"I'm confident that the United States is not going to default on its debt, and that we will resolve the need to increase the borrowing authority of this country prior to any deadline that the Treasury issues," he said.