Obama pushes Congress on immigration reform

President Obama on Saturday urged Congress to come to an agreement on immigration reform in order to bolster the U.S. economy.

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n his weekly address, the president said that "commonsense" changes to immigration policy, including a pathway to citizenship, would further the economy's recovery.

"There are a lot of reasons to feel optimistic about where we're headed as a country," Obama said. "We've just got to keep going."

Currently, the House and Senate are engaged in separate processes that will produce two distinct immigration reform bills.

As of this week, House negotiators were still trying to finalize the details of their reform package. The Senate's legislation will head to the floor in June.

Immigration reform would be a victory for Obama, who was dealt a major blow this spring when the Senate blocked a bipartisan proposal to strengthen background checks for gun buyers.

Obama's second-term agenda faces its next big test as the two chambers finalize, then seek to reconcile, their visions for immigration reform.

"We’ve got more doors of opportunity to open for anyone who’s willing to work hard enough to walk through those doors," Obama said.

The remarks also come as several GOP senators prepare to cross Capitol Hill for a closed-door immigration meeting with House conservatives.

That summit, which will reportedly include Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Mike Lee (Utah), is scheduled for Wednesday. As the first major bicameral meeting on immigration reform, it would be a major step forward for lawmakers.

In his remarks, Obama touted the economy's recovery, calling the once-flailing auto industry the "heartbeat" of U.S. manufacturing and saying that healthcare cost growth is slowing.

He pushed GOP lawmakers to continue this progress by easing homeowners' ability to refinance and by investing in infrastructure projects around the country.

Noting last week's major bridge collapse in Washington state, Obama said "we'd all be safer, and the unemployment rate would fall faster" if Congress made bridges and roads a priority.