CHICAGO President Barack Obama on Thursday urged Democrats to vote in November elections, saying the chance to pass immigration reform is at risk if Republicans gain control of both houses of Congress.
"We have a congenital defect to not vote in midterm elections," he said at a fundraising reception for Democratic Senate candidates. "The midterm comes and we fall asleep."
Democrats hold a 55-45 seat majority in the Senate, but many analysts give the Republicans an even chance of picking up the six seats they would need to seize control of the chamber. The Republican majority in the House of Representatives is not considered to be in play.
Obama was using an overnight stop in his adopted hometown to attend two fundraisers organized by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Tickets for the events, where he was joined by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, the DSCC chairman, cost between $1,000 and $35,000.
Obama blamed Republicans for congressional gridlock and said they were hostage to an extreme wing and uninterested in compromise.
"What's broken right now is a Republican party that repeatedly says no to proven time-tested strategies to grow the economy," he said.
At stake is the ability to pass immigration reform, reduce emissions that contribute to climate change, and the chance to raise the minimum wage, he said.
The president joked that six years in the White House had taken a toll on him.
"You all look the same and I look like Morgan Freeman," Obama said.
The events were his 22nd and 23rd fundraisers of the year.
(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Ken Wills)