White House press secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday said President Obama believes an immigration bill can pass Congress and be signed into law by the end of the year if House Republicans can overcome intra-party conflicts on the issue.
"The president made clear that he firmly believes we can get comprehensive immigration reform through Congress and on his desk by the end of the year," Carney told reporters.
He brushed aside doubts that a bipartisan consensus can be reached on overhauling the nation's immigration laws with partisan tension running high in the wake of the government shutdown in Washington.
"This is not about mistrust between Democrats and Republicans," Carney said, blaming the shutdown on a faction of the GOP, not the party itself.
Plenty of Republicans, he said, support passing comprehensive immigration reform and have worked with the White House to craft a measure that could attract enough support to make it through Congress.
Carney specifically mentioned Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., as two Republicans who have worked across the aisle on the contentious issue.
He said talks had already begun about reviving immigration reform.
"We are talking to members and staff members about how to move forward," he said.
But Carney acknowledged that talks between the president and key lawmakers alone would not help the issue overcome GOP differences in the House.
"If that's all it took, we would have gotten it by now," he said. "Obviously, House Republicans have to act."
Carney pointed to a bipartisan immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in June, calling it a "very significant achievement."
Although that bill varied from Obama's own immigration reform proposals, Carney said "it meets the criteria [Obama] set" and "he would sign it" if it overcomes hurdles in the House.
“The wisdom and benefits of comprehensive reform we believe supersede these partisan differences,” he said. “Their politics is something they have to take care of and make judgements about themselves.”
"We'll work with the House and any interested party -- of both parties to move this forward," said Carney.