WASHINGTON - President Obama pressed for swift action on a sweeping immigration bill Wednesday, saying last-minute obstacles are "resolvable" and predicting Congress could pass historic legislation by the end of the summer.
In back-to-back interviews with Spanish-language television networks, Obama repeatedly voiced confidence in a bipartisan Senate group that appears to be on the cusp of unveiling a draft bill. And he said that while he is still prepared to step in with his own bill if talks break down, he doesn't expect that will be necessary.
"If we have a bill introduced at the beginning of next month as these senators indicate it will be, then I'm confident that we can get it done certainly before the end of the summer," Obama told Telemundo.
While overhauling the nation's patchwork immigration laws is a top second term priority for the president, he has ceded the negotiations almost entirely to Congress. He and his advisers believe a bill crafted on Capitol Hill stands a better chance of winning Republican support than one from the president.
In his interviews Wednesday, Obama said a split between business and labor on wages for new low-skilled workers was unlikely to "doom" the legislation.
"This is a resolvable issue," he said.
The president also spoke Wednesday with Univision. His interviews followed a citizenship ceremony conducted Monday at the White House where he pressed Congress to "finish the job" on immigration.
The president made little progress in overhauling the nation's fractured immigration laws in his first term, but he redoubled his efforts after winning re-election. The November contest also spurred some Republicans to drop their opposition to immigration reform, given that Hispanics overwhelmingly backed Obama.
In an effort to keep Republicans in the talks, Obama has stayed relatively quiet on immigration over the last month.
He rolled out his immigration principles during a January rally in Las Vegas and made an impassioned call for overhauling the nation's laws during his February State of the Union address, then handed off the effort to lawmakers.
The president has, however, privately called members of the Senate working group, and the administration is providing technical support to the lawmakers. The Gang of Eight is expected to unveil its draft bill when Congress returns from a two-week recess the week of April 8.