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Sunday Show Round Up

Keystone and Immigration remain key legislative concerns in 2014

Denis McDonough on Meet the Press
• February 2, 2014 1:35 pm

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White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough sidestepped questions about the approval of the Keystone pipeline following the release of a State Department review that found the project would be unlikely to impact the climate.

"[President Obama] laid out his view on this last summer, his view is that if this is to go forward it should not significantly exacerbate the climate crisis in this country," McDonough said on NBC’s Meet the Press. "The Friday report is an important input into the process. We’ll hear from other cabinet secretaries."

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R., La.) said on CNN’s State of the Union that there was no reason for the administration to oppose the project, "unless it's purely ideological reasons."

"The reality is the Canadians, one of our closest allies, wants to help us become more energy independent. And this goes to an absolutely critical issue. Cheap, affordable, domestic energy is an absolute critical component for us to revive our manufacturing based economy," Jindal said.

"This is a no-brainer. This decision should have been made a long time ago. The Canadians are going to go and get this oil, the question is whether it to us or the Chinese."

Immigration reform is similarly a key legislative focus. Last week, the House GOP released "standards" for immigration reform, but the issue remains a contentious one.

When asked about comprehensive immigration reform, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) said on CBS’ Face the Nation that the Senate bill is still off the table.

"We’ve said all along we don't believe in a comprehensive fix. We want to go in a step-by-step approach to try and address the problems," Cantor said.

"I've always said we ought to be dealing with the things that we can agree on, which are the kids.  Most people say this country has never held kids liable for the misdeeds of their parents. And I think that in many instances, kids have been brought here and some, unbeknownst to themselves, and brought here illegally, and yet they know no other place is home. Certainly we ought to take care of that problem. That should come first because it just makes sense to start where we can find agreement," Cantor said.

Cantor said border security would be a key to any agreement.

"What we're trying to say is there is a prerequisite here. Part of the reason why people are beating down the doors to get in this country is because the laws we have create the opportunity we're about. And so we want to make sure, before anything else, that there is border security and implementation of the laws," he said.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) echoed the sentiment on ABC’s This Week.

Ryan said he did not know whether immigration reform would pass by the end of the year, but the approach must be "security first."

"We don’t think that we can allow this border to continue to be overrun, and if we can get security first, no amnesty before anything happens, we think that’s a good approach."

The White House is optimistic that immigration reform can be passed, and maintained that they were cautiously watching the House.

"We’re not going to jump to any conclusions on this," McDonough said on Face the Nation.

"We’ve got to see a pathway to citizenship for people. We don’t want to have a permanent separation of classes or two permanent different classes of Americans in this country. We’re just not going to live with that. This is an important first step. We’ll see how this plays out; our job now is to stand back and see how the House Republicans handle this."

The president’s use of executive orders is a concern for Republicans in the House.

"I think the takeaway was there's a lot of distrust of this administration in implementing the law and we just heard the president in his State of the Union address say, you know what, if he can’t work with Congress he's going to do it his own way," Cantor said. "And that sort of breeds this kind of distrust and I think we're going to have to do something about that in order to see a way forward on immigration."