A top adviser to President Obama said Friday that Rep. Eric Cantor’s election loss creates an opportunity for House Republicans to approve comprehensive immigration reform.
“There’s change of leadership obviously with Cantor’s loss,” said senior presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett. “Let’s see them take action. The president would like to give them the opportunity to do so.”
Ms. Jarrett, speaking at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, downplayed suggestions by some that Mr. Cantor’s perceived support for immigration reform contributed to his defeat in the Virginia GOP primary earlier this month.
“Nobody has said to me that they thought his defeat was because of immigration reform,” Ms. Jarrett said. “It was a surprise to everybody. We were surprised. [But] let’s get going. There’s really nothing standing in the way.”
Mr. Obama could take executive action on immigration reform, Ms. Jarrett said, but he’d rather wait for the House to take action this summer. She asserted “there is a groundswell [of support for immigration reform] coming from around the country.”
“I’m hopeful that that groundswell has an impact on the House of Representatives,” she said.
House Republicans voted this week to replace Mr. Cantor, the former majority leader, with Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California.
Businesses in Mr. McCarthy’s district, which is heavy on farming, depend on immigrant labor, and pro-immigration groups have said they intend to increase pressure on him to address the Senate’s legislation, which would create a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.