Myanmar— -- Even as far away as Myanmar, President Obama cannot escape the brewing face-off with Republicans that awaits him at home.
Speaking to reporters alongside famous opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, President Obama was adamant that, despite mounting GOP objections, he will move forward and take executive action to reform the immigration system by the end of the year because reforms are “way overdue.”
“I gave the House over a year to go ahead and at least give a vote to the Senate bill. They failed to do so and I indicated to Speaker Boehner several months ago that if, in fact, Congress failed to act, I would use all the lawful authority that I possess to try to make the system work better, and that's going to happen,” he said.
Asked about pending legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, the president said his position on the issue has not changed and that the ongoing evaluation should be allowed to continue.
In some of his strongest language yet, Obama pushed back against the Republican argument that the pipeline is a “massive jobs bill for the United States.”
“Understand what this project is: It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else. It doesn't have an impact on US gas prices,” he said, growing visibly frustrated.
“If my Republican friends really want to focus on what's good for the American people in terms of job creation and lower energy costs, we should be engaging in a conversation about what are we doing to produce even more homegrown energy? I'm happy to have that conversation,” he continued.
Looking ahead, the president stressed that their disagreements should not prevent the two parties from taking action in areas where they do agree.
“They're interested in tax reform, so am I. Let's get to work. They're interested in promoting trade that will create jobs and opportunity for US workers and US businesses? All over it. It's part of what this Asia trip's been all about. They're interested in rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our ports, our airports, putting people back to work, making sure we're competitive. I'm game.
“The one thing that I think is going to be important to have a successful partnership over the next couple years is not making disagreements on a single issue suddenly a deal breaker on every issue. Democracy can never work that way,” he said.