WASHINGTON — President Obama on Thursday renewed his call for an immigration overhaul, telling an audience of activists at the White House that the fate of a bipartisan Senate bill now rests with Republicans in the House.
“Anyone still standing in the way of this bipartisan reform should at least explain why,” Obama said in the East Room. “If House Republicans have new and different additional ideas for how we should move forward, then we should hear them. I will be listening.”
The Senate passed legislation in June by a vote of 68 to 32, giving a lift to Obama’s plans to improve border security, require employers to verify the immigration status of their workers, and provide a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants. White House strategists hoped that the vote would prompt action in the House.
But the effort stalled this summer, with many House Republicans expressing dissatisfaction with the increases in border security and saying they do not support any plan that would allow people in the country illegally to eventually become citizens.
Obama’s remarks were aimed at rebooting the discussion after months in which attention shifted to concerns about Iran and Syria and contentious disputes at home with the House Republicans that led to a government shutdown.
“That’s no reason that we shouldn’t be able to work together on the things that we do agree on,” Obama said as he urged the House to take up the immigration issue. “It’s good for our economy. It’s good for our national security. It’s good for our people. And we should do it this year.”
House Republicans have said they want to pursue an immigration overhaul in a step-by-step manner, addressing different aspects of the issue with smaller, individual bills.
But even as Obama urged the activists to keep up the fight in the days and weeks ahead, Obama expressed a bit of pessimism about the likelihood that Congress will soon pass legislation he can sign.
“Just because something is smart and fair and good for the economy and fiscally responsible and supported by business and labor and the evangelical community and many Democrats and many Republicans, that does not mean that it will actually get done,” he said. “This is Washington after all.”
GALLOWAY, N.J. — A year after Hurricane Sandy, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced $162 million in funding Thursday for 45 storm-protection projects from North Carolina to New England.
The money will help restore marshes and wetlands and rebuild shorelines to reduce the impact of storms like Sandy, which caused an estimated $65 billion in damage and was the second-costliest hurricane in US history, behind Katrina.
Jewell made the announcement during a visit to the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Galloway, near where the hurricane’s center came ashore Oct. 29, 2012. The natural buffer helped protect some communities from severe flooding.
The projects that will get funding are consistent with the recommendations of a presidential task force charged with developing a strategy for rebuilding areas damaged by Sandy, Jewell said.
The government is providing $15 million for salt marsh restoration along the New Jersey coast. It also allocated $4 million to help storm-proof the federal government’s Ohmsett oil spill research and test facility in Middletown.
In Massachusetts, more than $10 million is being provided for the Muddy Creek Wetland in Chatham, Parkers Tidal restoration project on the North Shore, and the Round Hill Salt Marsh restoration project in Dartmouth.