“The problem is internal Republican caucus politics,” he said, speaking at a press conference Friday afternoon. He defended the Senate bill and responded to criticism that the bill does not fix the issue completely.
“I don’t know a law that solves a problem 100 percent,” President Obama said. “If your main priority is border security, I think you’d want to vote for this bill.”
The President’s comments come after Rep. Luis Gutierrez is predicted that he has more than enough Republican votes to pass the comprehensive bill.
Forty to 50 House Republicans will support reform, he predicted on Thursday. Gutierrez said that he was asked back in 2009 by President Obama to find GOP members who would be willing to sign on to a comprehensive overhaul.
“If they asked me today, go find those 40 or 50 Republicans, I’d tell them I found them,” he said in an interview with the Washington Post. “I know where they’re at. They’re here. They’re present.”
According to the Illinois congressman, many of the GOP members who say they would support the overhaul are intentionally staying quiet in order to avoid backlash from conservatives.
“I’m not going to tell you the names of some of them. Because some of them I’ve spoken to, and they’ve said I’d love to do the activity with you. I want to be able to vote for it. I really don’t need to draw attention to myself,” he continued.
Indeed, facing negative backlash on immigration is a very real threat many Republicans face. Senator Marco Rubio, one of immigration’s biggest supporters, has suffered in the polls after his prominent role with the Senate “Gang of 8″ immigration bill. A recent NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll shows a decline in the once Tea Party favorite’s numbers, particularly among key conservative groups. The percent of conservatives who have an unfavorable view of Rubio has risen from 7 percent in February to 13 percent in July.
Speaker Boehner has said that for an immigration bill to be voted on in the House, it has to meet the Hastert Rule, which is the practice of not voting on a bill unless a majority of the majority party, in this case Republicans in the House, support the legislation.
Instead of moving the Senate bill forward, House Republicans have supported a piecemeal approach and want to pass separate pieces of legislation. Gutierrez also noted in the interview that only three Democrats voted earlier this year in favor of legislation that would deport Dreamers.
Gutierrez has been one of the most outspoken lawmakers in favor of reform, speaking at immigration rallies across the country. Part of his strategy is taking a more conciliatory approach toward his fellow lawmakers. He’s repeatedly praised his Republican colleagues like Rep. Paul Ryan for their work pushing reform forward.