Stepping up the fight for sweeping immigration reform, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Thursday said that if House Speaker John Boehner and his GOP caucus don't OK a "path to citizenship" for 11 million illegal immigrants, they will be punished by voters for "decades."
Promising to bring a world of political hurt on immigration reform foes, Trumka warned the Republican House that its decision on the issue could change the political makeup of the nation.
"Look," said Trumka, "if this doesn't have a pathway to citizenship, they are going to pay a political price that is going to pay dividends to workers for decades. The only thing standing between immigration reform and reality is John Boehner and the House Republicans. And if they continue to stand in that way, they will pay a major, major political price."
Trumka, speaking at a media breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, said "the system is broken. And they want to do everything that they can so that it isn't fixed."
Immigration reform is one of several hot-button issues facing Congress when they return to Washington in two weeks. The House leadership is eager to pick the legislation apart and pass it in pieces. The Senate approved one comprehensive bill, largely supported by President Obama.
Trumka also addressed the concerns labor has with Obamacare, revealing that unions are working with the administration to make changes.
"It still needs to be tweaked to be made more effective," he said after complaining that the so-called "public option" of government-funded health care should have been included and rapping the decision to withdraw the government's ability to push down the price of drugs.
"We made some mistakes" in the legislation, he conceded.
Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.