White House Chief of Staff Denis R. McDonough plans to huddle on Thursday with Democratic senators -- yet another sign that President Obama is preparing to act soon to revamp the nation's immigration laws.
A senior congressional aide familiar with the plans confirm the plans, but would only say that McDonough will attend the weekly Democratic policy lunch "to discuss the economy and priorities in the lame duck" session of Congress.
But the biggest White House priority these days is immigration and Obama has promised to use his executive authority to make changes in immigration policy at some point after the midterm elections and the end of the year.
Another potential subject of conversation could be the sensitive, months-long negotiations over the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s long-anticipated report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program.
McDonough has been personally negotiating with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the Senate intelligence panel chairman, about what portions of her report should be redacted.
Feinstein is said to be pushing to release her report, which took more than five years to prepare, before she loses control of the committee at the end of the year.
McDonough has visited Capitol Hill or hosted Democrats at the White House on several occasions to discuss immigration reform. He and other senior White House or administration officials huddle frequently with Democrats behind closed doors at the U.S. Capitol, usually during regularly-scheduled meetings. Such visits usually coincide with major policy announcements or to plot strategy in the years-long feud between the administration and congressional Republicans.
Anticipating that Obama is on the verge of taking action, congressional Democrats have spent much of the past week publishing op-eds, giving speeches and sitting for television interviews to preemptively defend Obama against anticipated GOP criticism of his decision.
And in an interview with Spanish-language network Univision, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) hinted that Obama could take steps "as soon as this week."
"I think it should be done now," Reid added in the interview.
On Tuesday, Reid told reporters, "When the president decides to do his executive order, he should go big, as big as he can."
Juliet Eilperin and Paul Kane contributed to this report.