By Justin Sink - 02/21/13 01:37 AM EST
President Obama said Wednesday that the weekend leak of his administration's preferred immigration plan would not undermine the bipartisan effort in the Senate to craft legislation providing a pathway to citizenship.
"It certainly did not jeopardize the entire process. The negotiations are still moving forward," Obama said during an interview with San Antonio's Univision affiliate. "Information floats out of Washington all the time; that shouldn't prevent anybody from moving forward."
Obama's bill did not tie a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants to new border security measures and did not create a new visa exit system — two provisions Republicans have insisted on in negotiations. In a statement, Rubio described the plan as "dead on arrival."
But on Wednesday, the president said the fact that the White House had been independently developing a proposal should not have surprised Senate Republicans.
"I've said repeatedly that I want Congress to go ahead and negotiate and get a bill done. But what I've also said is we're preparing a bill so that if Congress doesn't do its job, we're going to go ahead and put a bill on the floor of the United States Senate," Obama said.
Obama's calls on Tuesday appeared to smooth the waters with negotiators across the aisle, with spokesmen for the Republican senators issuing optimistic statements following the conversations.
“Senator Rubio appreciated receiving President Obama’s phone call to discuss immigration reform late tonight in Jerusalem,” Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said. Rubio is in the midst of a Middle East tour.
“The senator told the president that he feels good about the ongoing negotiations in the Senate, and is hopeful the final product is something that can pass the Senate with strong bipartisan support.”
Obama himself felt confident enough to promise an immigration bill would pass in his interview Wednesday.
"What I can promise is that we are going to get comprehensive immigration reform, but my job is to carry out the laws that are already in place," he said. "I have extended as much flexibility as I can — that's why we've been able to do the deferred actions that have helped the DREAM Act kids. I can't go much further than this. At this point, I need Congress to act and I am very eager for them to get the job done."