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Obama hopeful for ‘strongest possible vote’ on immigration

President Obama on Monday called on the Senate to pass a bipartisan immigration bill with the "strongest possible vote," after a meeting with business leaders to rally support for comprehensive reform.

"I would urge the Senate to bring this to the floor, and I hope that we can get the strongest possible vote out of the Senate so that we can then move to the House and get this done before the summer break," the president said.

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Obama’s comments came hours before the Senate’s first vote on a “border surge” amendment aimed at winning support from Republicans.

The president said that the debate had reached a "critical point" in the Senate, and business leaders "recognize that the immigration system that we currently have is broken."

Obama said the Senate bill "represents a compromise," and that "now is the time" for lawmakers to act.

"I think all the business leaders here recognize that there are elements of it that they might want to tweak one way or another," Obama said. "But it does adhere to the core principles that we need for comprehensive immigration reform."

The president met with nine business executives, including former AOL Chairman Steve Case, Ethan Allen CEO Farooq Kathwari, and Chobani yogurt founder Hamdi Ulukaya.

The White House is seeking to build momentum before Monday night's vote on the border enforcement amendment, sponsored by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.), which calls for the completion of 700 miles of border fencing and a doubling of patrol agents.

The amendment vote is seen as a proxy for the larger immigration reform bill, with supporters hoping to win in the neighborhood of 70 votes.

Senate leaders hope that a bipartisan bill with significant support would force the GOP-controlled House to move forward with immigration legislation of their own.

Earlier Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said "a lot of work remains to be done in the House certainly" when asked about the progress of the bill.

"This process is continuing," Carney said. "We look forward to action by the Senate and continue to work with the House as they take up the issue."