President Barack Obama on Thursday gave another push to Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform and placed the blame squarely on Republicans for its failure to advance during a speech on the issue at American University.
Im ready to move forward. The majority of Democrats are ready to move forward. And I believe the majority of Americans are ready to move forward, Obama told the crowd of evangelical, business and labor leaders. Congressional attendees included Reps. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).
But the fact is, without bipartisan support, as we had just a few years ago, we cannot solve this problem. Reform that brings accountability to our immigration system cannot pass without Republican votes. That is the political and mathematical reality, he said.
The president vowed not to kick the can down the road on the issue, despite the frequent pettiness of our politics and the pervasive sentiment in Washington that tackling such a thorny and emotional issue is inherently bad politics.
Obamas speech caps off a week in which he has been ramping up his efforts to spur action on immigration: He met with grass-roots groups on Monday and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Tuesday.
But given that lawmakers are unlikely to touch such an explosive issue with the midterm elections around the corner, the presidents latest push may be more about directing anger from the Hispanic community toward Republicans at the polls.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs wouldnt say whether politics were driving Obamas speech, but he emphasized that it is Republicans fault that the issue hasnt moved.
Thats just the legislative reality that we live with, Gibbs told reporters Thursday.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.