Obama, McCain to huddle on immigration

White House Flickr

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will meet with President Obama at the White House Thursday afternoon to plot strategy for passing comprehensive immigration reform.

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McCain said Obama requested the meeting, which comes at a time political momentum for immigration reform is flagging.

“I’m going over to the White House this afternoon to meet with him [on] immigration reform and others,” he said. “I actually have a respectful and cordial relationship with him.”

McCain and Obama need to shore up the support of wavering allies such as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who has backed off the push to overhaul the nation's immigration laws in a 1,200-page comprehensive bill.

Rubio has said the Senate should not try to merge its comprehensive bill with a piecemeal measure coming out of the House.

McCain's ally, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), has predicted there would be more Republican support for immigration reform after the filing deadlines for Republican primaries in 2014.

Graham, who is facing his own primary threat in South Carolina, said he would not attend Thursday's meeting between McCain and Obama.

A White House official confirmed the president's meeting with McCain would occur at 3:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon, but stressed the two would "discuss a broad range of issues" — not just immigration. 
 
Many Democrats are growing impatient with the lack of progress of immigration reform in the House.
 
“I’m disappointed that the immigration issue is going to go into an election year,” said Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.).
 
“Some argue, ‘Well, when we get beyond some primary elections maybe it will be easier,’” he said. “I just get nervous. The closer you get to an election, the tougher it is to deal with some of these challenging issues.”
  
— Justin Sink contributed.
 
This story was updated at 1:30 p.m.