Denis McDonough told Gutiérrez that Obama opposed a key concession that Democratic negotiators had made to House Republicans.
Sen. Charles Schumer later called. The New York Democrat, the architect of more liberal legislation from the Gang of Eight that was advancing in the Senate, delivered an even blunter message.
“Stop the progress on the House bill,” Gutiérrez described Schumer as saying. “I want you to stop. You are damaging the Senate proposal moving forward.”
The White House and Senate Democrats did not want a more conservative House plan —designed to pass muster with a Republican majority — to emerge before the Gang of Eight’s proposal had passed on the Senate floor.
Lacking support from party leaders, Democrats in the House group suffered from internal divisions over how far to bend in their bid to reach a deal that could set up a compromise with the more favorable Senate bill.
Tempers flared frequently between Gutiérrez, the colorful Chicago lawmaker revered by immigration advocates, and Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), a Los Angeles liberal who had risen up the ranks of the Democratic leadership.