By Justin Sink - 06/11/13 10:00 AM EDT
President Obama will hold an event Tuesday morning to rally support for comprehensive immigration reform, as the Senate begins floor debate on a bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11 million immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.
The president will speak shortly after 10 a.m. from the East Room of the White House, focusing on the economic and national security benefits of immigration reform, according to a White House official.
Attendees at the event include San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, and Tom Donahue, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Religious and law enforcement leaders will also be in attendance.
The White House has largely removed itself from the immigration debate, instead preferring to allow congressional negotiators to handle the drafting of the bill. But the president has looked to build momentum in recent days, as signs emerged that the Senate would soon open floor debate.
In his weekly radio address, Obama urged voters to lobby their congressional representatives to support the bill.
"If we’re going to truly fix a broken system, we need Congress to act in a comprehensive way. And that’s why what’s happening next week is so important," Obama said.
The open Senate debate will allow lawmakers to begin offering and voting on amendments to the 1,000-page bill that emerged out of the Gang of Eight negotiations through the spring. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he hopes to finish voting on the bill before the July 4 holiday recess.
In the House, negotiations on a separate bipartisan bill seemed endangered by Rep. Raúl Labrador's (R-Idaho) decision to leave the group crafting the measure. Labrador said he was walking away from the legislation because he was concerned taxpayers would end up paying for the healthcare of those in the country illegally.
The Senate legislation says immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally and are granted provisional legal status under the proposed bill cannot receive federal benefits stemming from President Obama's signature healthcare law.
But the House efforts received a boost when House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said last week he would endorse the bill.
The White House has attempted to keep focus on Obama's second-term policy agenda in recent weeks, despite headlines dominated by controversies over the National Security Agency's secret surveillance programs and the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative political groups. On Monday, the president held events at the White House commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Fair Pay Act and nominating Jason Furman as the next chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.