White House Press Secretary Jay Carney refused to say on Wednesday whether President Obama would push to include a provision for bi-national gay couples as part of comprehensive immigration reform.
In response to a question from National Public Radio’s Ari Shapiro, Carney emphasized the immigration bill produced by a group of U.S. senators known as the “Gang of Eight” is a compromise and the result of bipartisan agreement.
“As the president said, this bill is clearly a compromise, and no one will get everything they want from it, including the president,” Carney said. “That’s the nature of compromise, but the bill is largely consistent with the principles he has laid out repeatedly.”
Still, Carney said the legislative process is ongoing and that “we will see” what changes are made to the legislation before it reaches the president’s desk.
“Have you ever seen a bill of this size go from inception to a president’s desk unaltered?” Carney said. “So, we’ll see where this goes. So, I don’t want to characterize any provision within it. I want to broadly make the point that the president made yesterday that it is consistent with his principles and that this is significant and important progress and the members of the ‘Gang of Eight’ should be commended for the progress they’ve made.”
The 844-page comprehensive measure lacks a provision along the lines of the Uniting American Families Act that would enable gay Americans to sponsor their same-sex partners for residency in the United States.
The president has included language for bi-national same-sex couples as part of his plan for the comprehensive immigration bill. Carney’s remarks are consistent with what Obama has said previously: that he doesn’t want to be “heavy handed” in telling Congress what should be included in the legislation.
LGBT advocates, who expressed disappointment that a provision for bi-national gay couples wasn’t included in the base bill, are pushing for an amendment in the Senate Judiciary Committee to include UAFA as part of the final legislation.
The exchange between Shapiro and Carney follows:
Ari Shapiro: I want to ask about the immigration bill. President Obama spoke positively about the compromise offered yesterday, which does not include citizenship for same-sex couples of different nationalities. Is that something the president will push for in a final bill, or is just the cost of compromise?
Jay Carney: The president did, as you know, meet with Sens. Schumer and McCain, who briefed him on the bipartisan immigration reform bill that they have drafted and has now been submitted. As the president said, this bill is clearly a compromise, and no one will get everything they want from it, including the president. That’s the nature of compromise, but the bill is largely consistent with the principles he has laid out repeatedly. It would strengthen security at our borders and hold employers more accountable, and it would provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are already in this country illegally, and that is significant progress, as the president noted in his statement. This process will continue, we will work with lawmakers of both parties as the bill is considered, but it very important to note that this is a bipartisan bill that represents compromise and reflects and is consistent with the principles the president has long supported.”
Shapiro: Does that mean he’s willing to let that provision go?
Carney: I’m not going to negotiate out the process that will take some time in the Senate as this moves bill forward, or assess individual items within it. It certainly the case, as the president said in his statement, that not everything in the bill reflects how he would write it, but it broadly is consistent with his principles. And we will see — have you ever seen a bill of this size go from inception to a president’s desk unaltered? So, we’ll see where this goes. So, I don’t want to characterize any provision within it. I want to broadly make the point that the president made yesterday that it is consistent with his principles and that this is significant and important progress and the members of the “Gang of Eight” should be commended for the progress they’ve made. But we’re not there yet, and this is a big piece of business that requires broad bipartisan support. And much work remains to be done.
Watch the video here: