Bush pushes for progress on immigration
(CNN) — As House Republicans convene this week to discuss their next steps on immigration reform, former President George W. Bush underscored the importance of fixing a “broken system.” While noting the political controversy surrounding the bill, he said immigration reform “has a chance to pass.”
“It’s a very difficult bill to pass because there are a lot of moving parts, and the legislative process can be ugly, but it looks like they are making some progress,” Bush told ABC in an interview taped in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Bush has been in Zambia to help renovate a clinic that serves as a cervical cancer screening and treatment center.
Asked if it will hurt the GOP if Republicans fail to pass the bill, Bush said, “The reason to pass immigration reform is not to bolster a Republican Party, it’s to fix a system that’s broken.”
“Good policy yields good politics as far as I’m concerned.”
The former Republican president tried but failed to pass immigration reform during his second term in the White House, thanks in part to opposition from members of Congress from his own party.
Bush will deliver a speech on immigration at his presidential library in Dallas at an event titled “What Immigrants Contribute” on Wednesday, the same day House Republicans will meet to discuss their next steps on the issue.
Bush was also asked whether his views have evolved on same-sex marriage in light of recent Supreme Court decisions, but insisted he’s “not going to wade back into those kinds of issues.”
“I’m out of politics. The only way I can really make news is either criticize the president, which I don’t want to do; criticize my own party; or wade in on a controversial issue,” Bush said.
The former president met with President Barack Obama in Tanzania on Tuesday before the interview to talk about the Emergency Program for AIDS Relief, a program started by Bush during his first term. The two attended a wreath-laying ceremony commemorating the 1998 U.S. Embassy attack in Dar es Salaam, which killed 11 people, wounding hundreds. On the same day, a separate blast at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, killed more than 200 people and wounded close to 5,000.
Bush said when he spoke to Obama, he reminisced about similar, long trips during his own presidency.
“I remember how tired I used to get, and I said, ‘You’ve got to be kind of worn out.’ He said, well, he’s had a great trip, looking forward to getting back home.”
“And I asked him about his little girls — were they having a good time? He said, ‘You bet,'” Bush said of Obama’s daughters, Sasha and Malia, who accompanied first lady Michelle Obama and the president on the trip.
“I remember bringing our daughters on some of these trips, and how meaningful it was to be with them,” Bush said, adding that there was no talk of policy.
By: CNN Political Unit
CNN’s Paul Steinhauser, Ashley Killough and Dana Davidsen contributed to this report