Aug. 9, 2013— -- President Obama on Friday urged the House to act on immigration reform, saying he's certain that the votes exist to pass the Senate's sweeping overhaul of the nation's immigration laws.
The House broke for a five-week August recess without taking any major votes on immigration legislation. Obama said there is no reason for the Republican-controlled body to wait after members return next month.
"I am absolutely confident that if that bill was on the floor of the House, it would pass," he said during a news conference at the White House.
Obama blamed the slow pace in the House on "internal Republican caucus politics," an apparent reference to GOP leaders' insistence that they won't bring immigration bills to the floor without the majority support from members of their own party.
"That's what the American people don't want us to be worrying about," Obama said. "Don't worry about your Washington politics, solve problems. And this is one where you've actually got some pretty broad consensus."
But House leaders have said they will not take up the Senate's bill. Instead, they plan to tackle immigration reform with a series of smaller bills that deal with border security, worker visas -- and potentially -- legalization of undocumented immigrants.
The president addressed Republican critics of the Senate's immigration bill, which would allow undocumented immigrants a chance to earn citizenship, while beefing up border security resources and implementing new measures to prevent employers from knowingly hiring immigrants who are not authorized to work in the U.S.
"If your main priority is border security, I think you'd want to vote for this bill," he said.
Obama said that it's impossible to eliminate illegal immigration completely, but argued that the Senate-passed bill would go a long way in accomplishing that goal while boosting the nation's economy.
"I don't know a law that solves a problem 100 percent," Obama said. "That doesn't make them bad laws. It just means there are very few human problems that are 100 percent solvable."