In his weekly radio address on Saturday, President Barack Obama said the government shutdown needed to end so Congress could work on comprehensive immigration reform.
Obama rejected a House Republican proposal that would have re-opened the government and raised the debt-ceiling for six-weeks in return for an agreement on a “framework” on negotiations on more long-term budgetary issues. He said “this Republican shutdown” had to end “because there is so much else we should be focusing our energies on right now” and cited immigration as one of the things the government had to “fix.”
“We’ve got to create more jobs, and kids to educate, and an immigration system to fix,” Obama said.
Obama has recently said that comprehensive immigration reform was his “number-one priority.” On Monday, his administration allowed thousands of pro-amnesty protesters to use the National Mall, which was supposed to be closed due to the shutdown, for their rally. The Obama administration has barricaded other open-air spaces like the World War II Memorial.
The Senate has already passed an immigration reform bill, championed by Sens. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Republicans have indicated that they would put immigration reform on the agenda as soon as issues dealing with the shutdown and the debt ceiling are resolved.
House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said even piecemeal bills that passed the House would go to conference with the Senate, where many believe the pathway to citizenship provision would be inserted into a final bill. That is why Pelosi said Democrats were willing to do “whatever it takes” to get to conference.