South Carolina Republican Mick Mulvaney and New Jersey Democrat Bill Pascrell staked out the positions of their respective parties on Friday, making accusations and pronouncements in a testy CNBC interview about President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration.
"That was not an executive order. That was new law. You can't do that in this country on a unilateral basis. We saw it with health care, where we had no Republican buy in. Now we have no legislative buy in," said Rep. Mulvaney. "The biggest problem is not the substance of what the president did last night, although it's going to cause difficulties. The problem was the process."
The president said Thursday night that his actions are designed to "deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants" who already live in the U.S., because Congress failed to do so. "Tracking down, rounding up and deporting millions of people isn't realistic," he added.
Rep. Pascrell said on "Squawk Box" on Friday that Republicans left the president no choice but to act. "You guys and gals have not sent ... any legislation over 500 days after the Senate in a bipartisan vote, 68 senators voted for comprehensive reform in the immigration system."
"You've tied the president's hands," Pascrell said. "You've done a great job in doing it. And now the time has come to put up or go home."
Mulvaney, a member of both the House Financial Services and House Small Business committees, said he's interested in crafting immigration reform legislation. "I'm not interested in the president doing it by himself," he said. "What the president did last night was incendiary, designed to make ... [bipartisan] talks break down. Otherwise, he would have done it before" the midterm election earlier this month.
Pascrell, a member of both the House Ways and Means and House Budget committees, said that "dealing in fears" is incendiary. "Are the people who carry the American flag with those kids coming across the border? Are they any more American than you or myself? I don't think so."
"Here's the weakness in what Bill's talking about. He knows … I'm one of the Republicans who was interested in doing immigration reform," said Mulvaney. "Then what happened, the president opened up the Southwestern border bill in the springtime and all those discussions broke down."
Republicans have been using the excuse of strengthening border security first as a means to avoid dealing with the millions of undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S., Pascrell said.
"We've had a ruse for five years. Border security. That's baloney," the New Jersey Democrat continued. "I want to inform Republicans that there's more than one border in the United States of America. And there are not just Mexican hordes coming over the Rio Grande."