Obama to meet with Congressional leaders on immigration reform

President Obama will meet Tuesday with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders as the White House seeks to corral support for a comprehensive immigration reform package before the summer recess.

The Oval Office meeting will include House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the White House said Monday. Vice President Biden will also attend.

{mosads}It is the president’s first meeting with the full congressional leadership since March 1, when the group gathered in hopes of brokering a deal to avert the sequester. That gathering was ultimately unsuccessful, leading to the implementation of the $80 billion across-the-board cuts.

A White House official said Monday that the group plans to discuss “a range of international and domestic issues,” including immigration reform and student loans.

At a meeting with business leaders earlier Monday, President Obama said deliberations had reached a “critical point” and called on the Senate to pass the Gang of Eight’s bipartisan immigration bill with the “strongest possible vote.”

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“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.

In the afternoon, the Senate voted 67-27 to advance a border security amendment designed to garner additional Republican support for the bill. With 15 Republican votes, the bill is within reach of the 70-vote threshold Senate leaders hope to reach on the final legislation to amplify pressure on the House.

Meanwhile, the White House is also looking to amplify pressure on Congress to address a looming hike to federal student loan rates. Earlier Monday, the White House announced that Americans could text President Obama directly with questions about the rate hike.

The White House has proposed legislation to keep subsidized Stafford loans from rising from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1, and threatened to veto a House plan that would avert the spike. At an event earlier this month, Obama said that plan was “not fair” because rates were variable, rather than locked in. The president has also complained the House bill does not include a program that limits student loan payments in a given year to 10 percent of discretionary income.

But Republicans have said their approach largely mirrors that of the president, and point the finger at Senate Democrats for blocking a vote on the White House’s own plan.

“Senate Democrats have actively blocked the president’s plan and refuse to consider ours,” Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) said in the Republican weekly address. “In fact, they have yet to pass a solution of any kind. If I didn’t know any better, I would say they are content to let rates double.” 

Tags Boehner Harry Reid John Boehner Mitch McConnell

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