Updated with Gutierrez statement....
WASHINGTON--Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) decided on Thursday to vote "yes" for the Obama health bill, after threatening to vote no because of issues related to coverage of illegal immigrants in the bill and the lack of action from the Obama White House on comprehensive immigration reform.
Why is Gutierrez, a national leader on immigration moving to yes? The headline his his statement (below) tells his story. "Discussions with Obama ensure we can have
a victory for health care and for the immigrants of our nation."
Today, Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL), chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Immigration Taskforce made the following statement at a press conference with fellow members of the CHC:
"I've spent the past week speaking at length with the President and his staff. In fact, I spoke with him again just this morning. I shared with him that I believed that we could have a victory for every American who deserves affordable, high-quality health care and for the immigrants of our nation.
"I told President Obama I would not sacrifice either goal. After extensive discussions with the President, I believe we have a health care bill I can vote 'yes' for, and I believe we have a commitment to move forward on a comprehensive immigration reform package as soon as possible.
"Comprehensive immigration reform is simply too important to wait, and there is no legislative issue that is not impacted by our failure to pass it. The President knows that germs don't respond to borders, germs respond to medicine and good preventative care. He gets that we cannot ensure the health of our nation if we continue to ignore the 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows. And he agrees that if we are going to have health care that works, if we are going to have a system that cuts costs and streamlines the delivery and keeps our children healthy, then we fundamentally need to enact comprehensive immigration reform.
"I understand the difficulties that exist given the rules of this legislative process, which do not allow for changes to the health care bill's immigration provisions. Given that, we have an obligation and an opportunity to enact change at a comprehensive level. I believe that as tens of thousands prepare to march in Washington this Sunday for a fair and sensible solution to our immigration crisis, that the President will lead us."