Obama to push House on immigration reform

President Obama will look to ramp up pressure on the House to begin deliberations on a comprehensive immigration reform bill with a speech Thursday morning from the White House.

The president will urge Congress to take up a reform effort in a "bipartisan way," a White House official told Reuters.

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The president identified immigration as one of three legislative priorities — in addition to a budget and farm bill — he hoped Congress would tackle by the end of the legislative year during a speech shortly after the end of the government shutdown.

"The majority of Americans think this is the right thing to do, and it's sitting there waiting for the House to pass it," he said. "Now if the House has ideas on how to improve the Senate bill, let's hear them. Let's start the negotiations. But let's not leave this problem to keep festering for another year, or two years, or three years."

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that the White House had been consulting with congressional staff about how to best move forward.

Republicans have said that they do not favor a comprehensive bill, instead favoring a piecemeal approach to immigration reform. They argue a single bill would be too unwieldy and difficult to implement. But Democrats believe Republicans intend to pass new border security measures without also including a pathway to citizenship.

On Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he was "hopeful" the House would address the "important subject" of immigration reform.

Democratic lawmakers echoed the president's call to pass a bill by the end of the year in a press conference outside the Capitol.

“I think the only group that is not saying ‘let’s get immigration reform done’ seems to be the Republican majority in the House of Representatives,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said.

“Bring this bill to the floor. Bring an immigration reform bill to the floor. We will pass it,” he added.

Russell Berman contributed.

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