In response to early criticisms of President Obama's leaked immigration reform proposal, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said on Sunday that Obama meant for the draft proposal to be a back-up plan in case the bipartisan immigration teams in the House and Senate cannot come up with a bill quickly enough.
"We've not proposed anything to Capitol Hill yet," McDonough said on ABC's “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” "We've got a bill, we're doing exactly what the president said we would do last month in Las Vegas, which is we're preparing. We're going to be ready."
Shortly after USA Today leaked the contents of Obama's immigration proposal, which would allow undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship in eight years, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) rejected the proposal, calling it "half-baked" and "dead on arrival" because the president failed to seek input from Republicans in Congress.
McDonough said the president has been working with the four Republicans in the "gang of eight"--of which Rubio is a member-- all along.
"We're going to continue to work with Senator Rubio and others on this," he said. "But [Rubio] says it's 'dead on arrival' if it's proposed. Well, let's make sure that it doesn't have to be proposed. Let's make sure that that group up there, the gang of eight, makes good progress on these efforts, as much as they say they want to, and that's exactly what we intend to do, to work with them."
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), also appearing on "This Week," said he believes the president leaked his proposal in order to gain a "partisan advantage."
"I did think that [Obama's] words were measured and productive in the State of the Union," Ryan said. "But leaking this out does set things in the wrong direction. Look, the question that we always have to ask ourselves, particularly with this White House -- is the president looking for a partisan advantage or is he looking for a bipartisan law? And by putting these details out without a guest worker program, without addressing future flow, by giving advantage to those who cut in front of line for immigrants who came here legally, not dealing with border security adequately, that tells us that he's looking for a partisan advantage and not a bipartisan solution."