Vice President Joe Biden slammed House Speaker John Boehner Thursday for refusing to bring up a vote on a bipartisan, Senate-passed comprehensive immigration reform measure, during remarks made during a naturalization ceremony in Atlanta.
Boehner said Wednesday he would not bring the immigration bill to the floor before the end of the year because of opposition within his Republican caucus, though vote-counters say it would pass with Democratic and Republican votes.
"I'm extremely disappointed the speaker of the House of Representatives announced yesterday he will not allow the process to work, will not allow the House to play by fair play and the American way and let the Congress actually vote their conscience to fix a broken system," Biden said.
More than just being the right thing, Biden said it makes practical sense to create a path to citizenship for immigrants currently living in the United States.
"Studies show that if those 11 million people are let out of the shadows the GDP of the United States would grow by an additional 5.4 percent over the next 20 years; Social Security will be more solvent, not less solvent," he said.
Biden also praised the newly sworn-in citizens, who hailed from more than 50 different countries.
"There's something different that you all possess, making a decision to leave all you've known is not for the faint-hearted," he said. "You are invigorating and enriching an already very rich democracy. That's what gives us the vitality, the strength and the initiative to constantly change. That's the story of the history, of the journey, of this great country."
America, Biden said, is a place immigrants come to because it embraces innovation and possibility. He then intimated America's embrace of innovation is why we educate fewer scientists than other countries.
"Why do other countries in the world educate three, four, five, six times as many scientists as America does? America is the most innovative country in the world," he said, though many education experts have been working to get more American students involved in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
"It takes real courage to pick up and leave behind the familiar and venture in – no matter how promising it is – to venture in to a place that's new. People lacking imagination, people lacking courage, people who are faint of heart – they don't do that," Biden said. "Doesn't mean they are bad people, they're good people. But that's the vibrancy and what all of you share in common from 53 different countries."
In a news conference Thursday, President Barack Obama also said he would continue to press for immigration reform legislation.
"There is no reason for us not to do immigration reform," Obama said. "If people are looking for an excuse not to do the right thing on immigration reform, they can always find an excuse -- we've run out of time, or this is hard, or the list goes on and on. But my working assumption is people should want to do the right thing."