The White House on Friday chided Republicans for warning that President Obama’s action on immigration could disrupt work on other issues, with a top aide likening the threats to the “third-grade equivalent of taking your ball and going home.”
“There’s no reason you should not be doing those things you think are in the best interest of the country where there’s bipartisan agreement because you disagree with this,” senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast.
“The equivalent would be if the president said, ‘If you pass legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act that will poison the well and I refuse to work with you on anything else.’ That’s an illogical approach.”
Top Republican leaders repeatedly told the president to hold off on his executive action, which will provide deportation relief and work permits to as many as 5 million Americans. Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerDemocrats eager to fill power vacuum after Pelosi exit Stopping the next insurrection Biden, lawmakers mourn Harry Reid MORE (R-Ohio) said Friday that the announcement meant Obama “has chosen to deliberately sabotage any chance of enacting bipartisan reforms that he claims to seek.”
“And as I told the president yesterday, he’s damaging the presidency itself,” BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerDemocrats eager to fill power vacuum after Pelosi exit Stopping the next insurrection Biden, lawmakers mourn Harry Reid MORE said.
Pfeiffer downplayed the possibility that Republicans would react dramatically to the president’s policy changes.
"Certainly, our hope is that Republicans will listen to Sen. [Mitch] McConnell [R-Ky.], who has said two things: one is that Republicans have to demonstrate to the American people that they can govern, and two, there'll be no shutdowns or threats or things,” Pfeiffer said.
The president is also planning “a very aggressive sales job” to build support for his immigration plan, Pfeiffer said.
Calling the immigration action an “incredibly important priority” over the next year, the top Obama aide said the White House “will be making the case about what we did and also the need for Congress to finish the job.”
In addition to the president’s trip to Las Vegas on Friday, he’ll travel to Chicago next Tuesday for a meeting with immigration activists and a speech and sit for an interview Sunday with ABC’s “This Week.”
Pfeiffer says Obama will continue to push the initiative with additional presidential interviews and travel, while senior administration officials and Cabinet members will also fan out across the country.
The White House outreach will also include a “very hefty digital component,” Pfeiffer said.
“He will make the case to the country — how it is consistent with the past practice of presidents of both parties,” Pfeiffer said.