1. Archive

Obama wants immigration reform back on track but budget issues could eat up clock

Published Oct. 18, 2013

With the shutdown crisis lifted for now, President Obama urged Congress to get working again and made an appeal for immigration reform.

"There's already a broad coalition across America that's behind this effort of comprehensive immigration reform -- from business leaders to faith leaders to law enforcement," Obama said earlier today, noting the Senate had passed a bill with bipartisan support but that the issue is dormant in the more conservative House. "Now, if the House has ideas on how to improve the Senate bill, let's hear them. Let's start the negotiations. But let's not leave this problem to keep festering for another year, or two years, or three years. This can and should get done by the end of this year."

But the deal to end the shutdown could only make that harder. By punting the fight over the budget and the debt ceiling, Congress has ensured those issues will remain dominant.

"The biggest threat to getting immigration reform done is time," said Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, who has tried to get his chamber moving on the issue. "We're still working and that's good. (But) if we have another shutdown or (a Syria like crisis) that takes over for two weeks, all that does is impact us negatively. Time is our biggest problem."

The issue could spill over to next year but then election-year politics make it less likely House Republicans will want to do something.