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White House, Republicans At Odds Over Immigration Bill
While Congress works on an immigration reform bill, similar work in the White House has set Republican lawmakers on edge.
While President Obama played golf with tiger woods at a private club in Florida, his new Chief of Staff defended the White House against charges it's trying to sabotage congressional efforts to a reach a deal on immigration by drafting its own bill without consulting republicans.
"We are doing exactly what we said we would do, which is - we will be prepared in the event that the bipartisan talks going on the Hill -- which, by the way, we are very aggressively supporting. If those do not work out, we will have an option that will be ready to put out there," said Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.
The White House says its immigration bill is strictly a 'plan b' -- if Congress doesn't act.
But a draft of the bill, obtained by USA Today, drew fire from republicans, whose support the White House needs. Senator Marco Rubio called it "half-baked," "seriously flawed," and "dead on arrival."
Rubio, like John McCain, is a key GOP negotiator.
"Leaks don't happen in Washington by accident. This raises the question that many of us continue to wonder about: does the President want a result or does he want another cudgel to beat up Republicans so that he can get political advantage in the next election," said McCain.
In the draft from USA Today, the White House would let undocumented immigrants apply for a new kind of visa so they could legally live and work in the U.S.
They could seek permanent residency within eight years, if they pay back taxes and learn English, U.S. history, and civics.
The White House insists it's committed to working with republicans and supporting what Congress does, for now.
"And we're going to continue to work with Senator Rubio and others on this, but he says it's dead on arrival if proposed. Let's make sure it doesn't have to be proposed," said McDonough.
Congressional negotiators plan to unveil their draft legislation, next month.