President Barack Obama on Wednesday said “temperatures need to cool” before Congress is able to consider immigration reform, but remained optimistic Republicans will eventually be open to negotiating a comprehensive bill.
Until then, Obama identified tax reform, infrastructure and trade as top legislative priorities he will focus on with the GOP-controlled Congress he will inherit in his final two years as president. If progress is made on those issues, Congress may be able to turn its attention towards comprehensive immigration reform.
“I suspect temperatures need to cool a little bit in the wake of my executive action,” Obama told CEOs during a discussion with the Business Roundtable.
“My suspicion is they’ll take a couple of stabs at rolling back what I’ve done and then perhaps folks will step back and say: Rather than doing something partial that we may not be complete satisfied with, let’s engage with the president and see if we can do something more comprehensive,” he added.
Obama remained hopeful that the government will not be shut down, saying he takes Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. John Boehner “at their word” that they want to avoid letting the government run out of funding later this month.
The wide-ranging discussion with American business leaders also included issues taking place overseas, including the U.S. relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“He has been improvising himself into a nationalist, backward looking approach to Russian policy, that is scaring the heck out of his neighbors and badly damaging his economy,” Obama said.
Obama does not expect Putin to change course soon because “this is working for him politically inside of Russia,” despite alienating Russia from the international community.
-- Andrew Rafferty