President Barack Obama laid down a deadline for immigration reform on Tuesday, saying House Republicans have two or three months to start acting on an overhaul before midterm election politics take over.
As he met with more than 40 law enforcement officials, Obama pressed the case that Congress has a “very narrow window” to complete immigration reform this year. He accused a “handful” of House GOP lawmakers of stalling reform but added that a number of Republicans are “realizing that blocking immigration reform is not a good idea.”
“The closer we get to the midterm elections, the harder it is to get things done around here … it’s just very hard right before an election,” Obama said Tuesday. “So we’ve got maybe a window of two, three months to get the ball rolling in the House of Representatives.”
His comments reflect a sense on and off Capitol Hill that lawmakers could still act on immigration reform this year, but that it’s dead unless that happens before the August recess. Obama has previously emphasized the truncated timeframe — for instance, at a Cinco de Mayo reception earlier this month, he urged reformers to mobilize “over the next two months” — but Tuesday’s comments appear to be the firmest yet on a deadline.
The Democratic-led Senate passed a comprehensive bill last June, but House Republican leaders have ruled out that legislation in favor of their own approach. Obama stressed Tuesday that he was not “hell-bent” on making sure every word of the Senate bill, written by a bipartisan group of eight senators, reaches his desk.