President Barack Obama took a break from his Africa trip to pressure the House Republican leadership to help rewrite the nation’s immigration laws.
He also tried — but failed — to reach and congratulate Sen. Marco Rubio, the chief GOP supporter of the Senate bill.
Obama called the Republican Speaker of the House, Rep. John Boehner, and the Democratic leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and “urged them to take up immigration reform now that the Senate had passed a comprehensive bill with a large bipartisan majority,” spokesman Jay Carney said during an informal press conference aboard Air Force One, while flying to Johannesburg, South Africa.
Boeher has said GOP legislators will meet July 10 to debate their strategy, after they return from meetings with constituents during the July 4 break.
Obama has said that passage of an immigration bill would be a “historic” achievement.
Obama also called the senators in the so-called “Gang of Eight” that developed and promoted the bill, including New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer.
However, he was not able to make contact with Rubio, the most prominent GOP member of the gang, or Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake.
“He also tried to reach, but was not able to, Senator Flake, Senator Rubio,” Carney said.
Flake and Rubio also avoided the impromptu press conferences that took place in the Senate corridors after the vote.
In recent months, both Senators have seen their public support take hits.
On Thursday, the bill passed with uniform support from 55 Democratic Senators.
Thirteen of 45 GOP Senators voted for the bill, while 32 voted against the measure. The split reflects a deeper divide over the best strategy for the party.
If enacted, the bill would bring in 10 million more immigrants by 2023 and 16 million more between 2023 and 2033. It would also provide a permanent welcome for eight million illegal immigrants who are already in the country. Most of the arrivals are expected to be low-skill, Democratic-friendly immigrants who would pay less in taxes than they would receive in benefits.
The bill would also reduce the nation’s average wages and education, increase unemployment and shift more of the nation’s earnings away from wages and into investments, according to a June 16 report by the Congressional Budget Office.