Additional border security is needed as part of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Friday - but wouldn't directly comment on some senators' beliefs that an amendment proposing pricey border control elements could be considered "overkill."
"The president has overseen substantial improvements in our border security, and that has been testified to by independent observers as well as Republicans in Congress," Carney said, pointing out a historic high for border security and increased protections put in place by President Obama. Still, he said, further measures are necessary.
Pending a finalized announcement from the "gang of eight" senators working on immigration, Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., told reporters Thursday an amendment focused on border security includes $3.2 billion of technology, a 700-mile fence and 20,000 new border patrol officers. Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., both have called the amendment "overkill" in terms of border control, but have cited it as an important draw for Republicans.
"We believe when it comes to immigration reform that the kind of bipartisan progress we've seen in the Senate and the bipartisan work that we've seen in the House will in the end carry the day," Carney said. "It's ultimately in the interest of the Republican party to do it."
He also directed those concerned about the cost to a report out earlier this week from the Congressional Budget Office, which found that the bill would dramatically help shore up the federal deficit over time.