(CNN) – As Congress returns from recess next week, President Barack Obama is urging his colleagues on the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue to get to work on a number of fronts, including housing and immigration.
“There are a lot of reasons to feel optimistic about where we’re headed as a country – especially after all we’ve fought through together,” he said in his weekly address. “We’ve just got to keep going.”
This week the Obama administration extended for two more years the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), an initiative to help troubled mortgage borrowers.
The Treasury Department and Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Thursday that homeowners will now have until the end of December 2015 to tap the program for help.
Under the main HAMP program, more than 1.1 million homeowners have received a permanent modification as of the end of March. The modifications lowered payments by a median of $546 a month, 38% less than borrowers previously paid.
Obama praised the extension Saturday, saying “a housing market that was in tatters is showing new signs of real strength” with a growth in construction and a drop in home prices.
“But to keep our housing market and our economy growing, Congress needs to step up and do its part,” he said. “Members of Congress will be coming back next week for an important month of work. We’ve got to keep this progress going until middle-class families start regaining that sense of security. And we can’t let partisan politics get in the way.”
He called on Congress to pass a law giving every homeowners the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage by refinancing at “historically low interest rates.”
Also facing Congress this summer are immigration reform efforts underway in both the House and Senate. Obama called on lawmakers to pass “commonsense reform that continues to strengthen our borders; holds employers accountable; provides a pathway to earned citizenship; and also modernizes our legal immigration system so that we’re reuniting families and attracting the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers who will help our economy grow. “
“If we work together, I’m as confident as I’ve ever been that we’ll get to where we need to be,” he added.
– CNNMoney’s Les Christie contributed to this report.