Pelosi 'optimistic' immigration reform will pass

Comprehensive immigration reform is moving forward in the Senate, where a fragile bipartisan coalition has so far held together through extensive negotiations and an initial committee markup.

Pelosi noted that a bipartisan group of House members is also working on an immigration framework and said she hopes the final bill will reflect the priorities shared by both efforts.

A fight over benefits for same-sex couples probably won't derail the effort, Pelosi said. The Senate's bipartisan progress could be threatened by a proposal to let same-sex couples sponsor their partners for green cards, just as opposite-sex couples can sponsor a spouse.

"We're not for discrimination of any kind, so we would hope there would be no discrimination in the immigration bill," Pelosi said.

She noted, however, that the Supreme Court could rule on federal restrictions of same-sex benefits before the immigration bill passes. And there are other legislative fights that pose a bigger challenge, she said.

"This is not the standing issue. There are other obstacles to overcome," Pelosi said.

The former Speaker also said Democrats will try again to pass gun control, after a bill to expand background checks for gun purchases failed in the Senate.

"I don't know how anybody could go to work the next day, look themselves in the mirror, whatever, if Congress cannot pass a background check bill," Pelosi said.

She said the public overwhelmingly supports expanded background checks, but that lawmakers don't feel enough political pressure from their constituents on the issue.

"The public by and large knows we have to have a bill - serious background checks," Pelosi said. "That message has not been delivered clearly enough to members of Congress."

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