President Barack Obama has been working hard behind-the-scenes to push the far-reaching immigration law over the finishing line, White House spokesman Jay Carney said today.
“The president has been working very hard on this matter. He’s had numerous conversations with lawmakers in both parties,” he said during the daily press conference.
Previously, White House officials downplayed the president’s role in the immigration debate, partly because polls show that GOP-leaning voters are more likely to oppose the measure when it is backed by Obama.
Obama has said passage of the bill would be a “historic achievement.”
Carney’s claim came in response to a question about Sen. Marco Rubio’s statement on Fox News that the bill doesn’t have enough support to overcome the Senate’s 60-vote hurdle.
“No, and I think even the Democrats would concede that,” Rubio told Fox.
“One of the things we’ve learned over the last few weeks … is how little confidence people have that the federal government will enforce the law,” said Rubio.
“People don’t trust the Department of Homeland Security to the job or to come up with a plan to do the job,” he added.
This week, Rubio suggested that Congress should write a border security plan, instead of delegating the task to the White House’s appointees.
Rubio’s proposal has been derided by critics, who say Obama’s deputies won’t implement any part of a border security plan that they don’t like. The critics say the security plan could be enforced if the any amnesty process is delayed until the security plan is fully operational.
Democratic advocates of the bill, including Sen. Chuck Schumer and Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, say they’ll get more than 60 votes to approve the bill in early July.
Carney’s statement came as the administration launched a series of initiatives and fights that can advance the presidents’ agenda, and also push several scandals — such as the IRS targeting scandal — off the front pages.
If passed by the Senate, the bill would have to be approved by the House before it could be signed into law by Obama.