Obama To Huddle With American Legion Days After Major Immigration Announcement

Obama To Huddle With American Legion Days After Major Immigration Announcement

President Barack Obama will meet with top officials from the American Legion on Friday morning just days after the 2.4 million-member group criticized a plan to include an immigration proposal in a defense authorization bill.

According to the White House’s Daily Guidance for the president’s schedule on Friday, released late Thursday, the president will meet with the executive director and national commander for the American Legion, Daniel Dellinger, at the White House at 11:35 ET. 

The meeting–while normally would not be considered controversial or eyebrow-raising–comes after the American Legion very publicly shot down the idea from House Republicans to include a amnesty for illegal alien DREAMers who enlist in the military in the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Meanwhile, President Obama and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor–the highest-profile and most powerful support of the NDAA amnesty effort, which is being led by Reps. Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Mike Coffman (R-CO)–duked it out over immigration on Wednesday.

The White House schedule doesn’t give many details about what the focus of Obama’s meeting with Dellinger will be. But the NDAA–a must-pass bill that is one of the last “consensus” pieces of legislation that passes Congress each year–is almost certain to come up. Obama and Dellinger may discuss the American Legion’s warning that including amnesty inside the NDAA could be poisonous to the bill’s passage.

A few weeks ago, Breitbart News first exposed the secretive effort Denham is leading to include the immigration proposal in the NDAA. On Monday, Cantor first publicly backed the policy at issue in comments from a top political aide to Breitbart News.

In response to these developments, the American Legion–a 2.4 million member group focused on helping veterans–earlier this week came out swinging against the effort according to the Washington Times. “The NDAA needs to stand alone, and I think attaching an issue as contentious and complex as immigration and recruitment policy would only stall the NDAA,” American Legion national security division director John Stovall said. “Immigration policy needs to be debated on its own outside the debate of NDAA.”

The Times described the American Legion’s opposition to an amnesty-filled NDAA as “a serious blow” to the effort.

Obama called Cantor on Wednesday in what the White House described as a call designed to wish Cantor, who is Jewish, a Happy Passover. Immigration came up during the call, and Cantor issued a statement afterwards berating Obama and criticizing him for partisanship. The White House described the call differently, saying that while Cantor and the president did discuss immigration it went cordially. 

Nonetheless, Cantor–facing heat from his primary challenger Dave Brat over immigration, and pressure from conservatives in Congress and across the country–took an aggressive posture about his call with Obama.  “I told the President the same thing I told him the last time we spoke,” Cantor said in a statement. “House Republicans do not support Senate Democrats’ immigration bill and amnesty efforts, and it will not be considered in the House.”

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal broke news late Thursday quoting House Speaker John Boehner as saying he is “hellbent” on enacting a major immigration deal in 2014.

This week marked the one-year introduction of Senate passage of the controversial “Gang of Eight” bill that House leaders remain adamant they will not bring to the floor of the House.