By Justin Sink - 06/13/13 05:03 PM EDT
President Obama will meet Thursday with the four Senate Democrats who crafted a bipartisan immigration reform bill. [WATCH VIDEO]
Obama will meet with Sens. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Robert Menendez (N.J.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.) — as well as Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
The Senate began debating the bill this week amid growing momentum for the bill.
“If you're serious about actually fixing the system, then this is the vehicle to do it," Obama said. "If you're not serious about it — if you think a broken system is the best America can do, then I guess it makes sense to block it.”
Carney said Thursday that the White House is “heartened” by progress, before adding more work must be done.
“The president’s interest is in the Senate recognizing that we have a unique opportunity that has been a long time coming and isn’t likely to come again any time soon if we don’t seize it to pass comprehensive immigration reform with bipartisan support,” Carney added.
Some lawmakers have suggested Obama should stay away from the debate over the bill, and that his interference could hurt its prospects.
“The biggest obstacle to passing common-sense immigration reform is President Barack Obama,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told ABC News on Monday.
Cruz also suggested Obama had designed the immigration bill, which includes a pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants, to fail in the House as leverage for political gain.
“It is designed for it to sail through the Senate and then crash in the House to let the president go and campaign in 2014 on this issue,” Cruz said.