WASHINGTON -- The bad blood between House Republicans and President Barack Obama has only worsened since the fight over funding the government and paying its debts, and Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) said Wednesday that it had doomed any chances for immigration reform.
After Labrador said during an event with conservative members that they could no longer trust the president on immigration, HuffPost asked him a simple question: Is it dead?
"I think it is," he replied. "For us to go to a negotiation, to the negotiating table with President Obama after what he has done over the last two and a half weeks, I think would be probably a very big mistake."
Obama told Univision affiliate 34 KMEX on Tuesday that he would turn back to immigration reform immediately after the fiscal issues are dealt with, even as House Republicans look increasingly unwilling to pass immigration reform themselves.
"Once that’s done, you know, the day after I’m going to be pushing to say, call a vote on immigration reform," Obama said. "And if I have to join with other advocates and continue to speak out on that, and keep pushing, I’m going to do so because I think it’s really important for the country. And now is the time to do it."
Labrador was once considered a potential broker of immigration reform, bridging the gap between conservative members and Democrats in the same way Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) did in the Senate. Labrador worked with a bipartisan group on a comprehensive immigration reform plan but dropped out of negotiations in June. The group fell apart completely last month after two additional Republicans quit.
Labrador said when he was working with the group he was beginning to feel that immigration reform might be a bad-faith effort from Democrats.
"Every single time we were closer to something that actually we could both agree on, the president and his party continued to push back," he said. "It's just the way this guy negotiates. The president and [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid will only negotiate in a take no prisoners type of attitude, and I just don't think it's healthy for the American people and it's definitely not healthy for immigration reform."
Now, Labrador said he doesn't want the House to pass anything on immigration -- even piecemeal bills that many GOP members support -- because it could be combined with the Senate-passed comprehensive reform bill.
"Anything that you pass to the Senate piecemeal they're going to try to conference it with their Senate bill," he said. "It's not worth doing it."
During the event, Labrador said "it would be crazy" for House Republicans to go to conference with the Senate on immigration and attempt to combine the two chambers' bills. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) said House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told him they would only deal with piecemeal legislation and would not conference on the Senate bill.
"I think what he has done over the past two and a half weeks -- he's trying to destroy the Republican party," Labrador said of Obama. "I think that anything we do right now with this president on immigration will be with that same goal in mind, which is to destroy the Republican party and not to get good policies."