Key Senators, meanwhile, said Obama’s words were not enough. Last year, immigration reform advocates tried to garner 60 votes for a comprehensive bill but fell short, and the math only will get harder in the current Congress.
“I think it was good that he mentioned it, but I was hoping for more,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said. “When he talked about it, I thought there’d be a broader discussion than what I heard.”
Sen. John Cornyn said he was disappointed with Obama on immigration reform. “Every year he comes here and he says more or less the same thing, but he has demonstrated it is not a priority for him,” the Texas Republican said. “This is something that is going to require presidential leadership. It’s got to be more than pretty words, it’s got to be action.”
Cornyn pointed to President George W. Bush’s unsuccessful attempt at trying to move forward on legislation as a stronger effort to find compromise.
“President Bush used a lot of political capital to move the issue and it’s obviously very tough and complex, but Republicans, including me, are willing to work if [Obama is] serious about it rather than just talking about it,” Cornyn said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.