Earlier today, U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján from New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District spoke to CNN’s Chris Cuomo on the South Lawn ahead of Pope Francis’ welcome at the White House.
The interview covered the Pope’s historic visit, its implications for Congress on topics including immigration reform, and most importantly, the Congressman’s deep pride and excitement for the Papal visit as a Catholic.
Asked about the political implications of the visit, and the Republicans’ “aggression” toward the Pope this week, Luján told CNN:
“Whatever the message of what Pope Francis shares with us, it may make some Members [of Congress] comfortable, some Members uncomfortable… but it’s a learning experience. We should welcome that message and we should treat him with the respect and dignity that he deserves and commands. I’m just hopeful that whatever the Pope challenges us with, that we’re able to learn from it, listen to him and God willing, put things into practice.”
When asked about the Pope’s interest in comprehensive immigration reform, and whether the onus is also on Democrats for lack of progress:
“We all have a responsibility to get the job done. But, when Speaker Boehner and House Republicans refuse to allow for a piece of House immigration reform to come to the Floor, there’s nothing we can do as Democrats to change that. We hope and we pray that Speaker Boehner – maybe he’ll listen today – and House Republicans will listen today. The votes are there. If only a bill would come to the floor, I believe in my heart of hearts – and the numbers show it – [that] Democrats will pass that bill in conjunction with our brothers and sisters of the Republican party, to do what’s right for the country and pass comprehensive immigration reform.”
And when asked about his personal excitement about Pope Francis’ visit, Luján told CNN:
“I think for me personally, the pride that I carry is the pride that so many people across this country carry. My Mom’s with me here today … and my Dad sadly passed away a few years ago: it was always a dream for my Mom and Dad to visit the Vatican, seeing the Pope…
“I think that the Pope calling for us to find the greater good within us, and to challenge us to make a difference every day, and asking us if we’ve made that difference. I see the importance of him coming together to bring the country together, and I hope and pray to bring the Congress together, to find the greater good in each and every one of us.”
Watch the full CNN Interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ql9HOKJeLq8&feature=youtu.be