PHOENIX -- Arizona's longest current serving congressman says immigration will likely take a back seat this year as Democrats and Republicans duke it out over economic issues like the debt ceiling the deep spending cuts to defense.
Rep. Ed Pastor, a Democrat from Phoenix, says legislative attempts to fix the nation's immigration problems will probably have to wait until summer or possibly longer.
Appearing on 3TV's Politics Unplugged, which airs Sunday at 5:30 p.m., Pastor said fiscal issues will take center stage for the new Congress and push immigration off to the side for now.
"Obviously the first quarter at least into March you're going to be dealing with fiscal issues," said Pastor, who has served in Congress for the past 22 years.
"If you get you get these resolved then you're going to be dealing with whether it be gun control or whether it be immigration."
If lawmakers in Washington D.C. choose to take on gun issues first, Pastor says Congress won't even begin dealing with immigration until the summer at the earliest.
Pastor's comments will likely be a disappointment for activists pushing for an immigration solution that deals with the millions of illegal immigrants living here.
President Barack Obama made immigration a top issue during his campaign, but some of the political momentum may have been slowed after the school shooting that left 26 dead, including 20 children, last month at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Since then the administration has been focused on proposed gun legislation such as passing a bill requiring background checks on all sales of firearms in the United States.
Also taking up time with Congress will be the fiscal issues like the debt ceiling and potential spending cuts.
Republicans appear to headed toward a showdown with Obama over the nation's borrowing authority.
The GOP is urging Obama not to increase the amount of money the country can borrow. But Democrats have urged the president to avoid a second run in with Republicans over the issue by raising the so-called "debt ceiling" through an executive order.
That's not the only fiscal fight Democrats and Republicans are bracing for. Come February or March the two sides will battle over hundreds of millions of dollars in mandatory spending cuts to defense.
The Pentagon is looking at a half-a-trillion dollars in mandatory cuts over the next ten years. The cuts were ordered by Congress as a way to reduce the nation's debt.
The reductions were set to take affect at the beginning of the year, but lawmakers delayed them until March.