(WASHINGTON) — Failed attempts at immigration reform are nothing new on Capitol Hill, but there is some indication a new post-election tone might help pave the way for lawmakers and the White House to move toward a comprehensive plan.
In his election night acceptance speech President Barack Obama specifically mentioned that in his second-term he will try again to fix the nation’s immigration system. Failure to get an immigration reform bill was his “biggest failure” the president told Univision back in September.
The election’s results may point to a political will across the nation that could align Republicans with the White House’s ambitions. Hispanics made up 10 percent of the electorate and favored Obama over Republican nominee Mitt Romney by a 44-point margin.
Some Republicans this week have spoken out more favorably about working towards a comprehensive plan. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., tweeted on Friday that he supports “calls for comprehensive immigration reform.” McCain had been the chief Republican backer of a comprehensive plan that provided a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. But that was before his run for president and a reelection battle in 2010 that saw him shift more toward the right on the issue. But Friday’s tweet indicates a new mindset for McCain.
In an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer on Thursday, Speaker of the House John Boehner also expressed a willingness to tackle immigration.
“This issue has been around far too long,” Boehner said. “A comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself, others can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said that immigration reform falls “very high” on his priority list for the new session of Congress. “Only thing we need to get immigration reform done are a few Republican votes,” Reid said Wednesday after the election, “I get 90 percent of the Democrats. Couldn’t we get a few Republicans to join us? So it’s high on my list. And we’re going to have some votes on it.”
Vice President Joe Biden told reporters on Wednesday that he was “very optimistic” about the prospects for immigration reform because the election had served as a “wake-up call” for his GOP colleagues.
Congress will be back in session next week, but lawmakers likely would not turn their attention to immigration reform until next year at the earliest.
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