However, a Senate Republican leadership aide said economic issues would be the prime concern of Congress for months, pushing back consideration of gun control and immigration. The aide blamed Obama.
“The lack of leadership on spending and debt has put us behind on a number of other issues. That is not something that can be resolved quickly,” the aide said.
When blocked in Congress, Obama has shown a willingness to use executive orders and agency rules to make policy changes. During last year’s campaign, Obama ordered an end to deportations of young undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children and had never committed a crime.
This week, the US Department of Homeland Security changed its rules to make it easier for undocumented immigrants to get a waiver allowing them to stay in the country as they seek permanent residency.
With Republicans motivated to improve their standing with Hispanics, there is a chance Congress will work with the White House to pass an immigration bill that both bolsters border security and offers a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants who pay their back taxes and fines.
Finding the rare sweet spot where Obama and Republicans actually agree on an issue could be the key to second-term legislative success.
However, Kessler said he was skeptical that Obama and Congress can find common ground on a comprehensive immigration measure that provides a long-term solution for the country’s 12 million illegal immigrants.
“Will something get done on immigration? Probably. But a major deal that addresses all undocumented immigrants in a comprehensive way? We’re much less confident than we were two weeks ago,” Kessler said.