(FOX Nation) -- During the Question & Answer session following President Barack Obama's remarks on his recent summit with African leaders, ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl asked the president about rumors of executive action regarding immigration reform.
Karl referenced then-Candidate Obama's statements during the 2008 election when he criticized George W. Bush for 'bringing more power into the executive branch, and not going through Congress at all'. At the time, Obama pledged to 'reverse' that pattern.
Karl asked Obama whether the 'dysfunctional' Congress' inability to pass sufficient immigration reform legislation 'given [him] the green light' to 'push the limits of Executive power'.
"There are some things we just can't do [as president]," Obama replied, adding that he would 'love' to see a 'large infrastructure proposal right now to put millions of people back to work', but did not have the Constitutional 'power of the purse' that the Legislature has.
"Without the cooperation of Congress, I can still speed up the permitting process, for example" Obama said.
"I don't have a green light," he added, "What I am consistently going to do is, wherever I have the legal authorities to make progress... whether it's making sure Federal contractors are paying a fair wage... [or] expand some of the student loan programs, so that repayments are a little more affordable for college graduates, I'm going to seize those opportunities. And that's what I think the American people expect me to do."
He added that his 'preference' was to work with Congress, but cited 'Congressional inaction-- in particular on the part of House Republicans when it comes to immigration reform'.
"We actually passed a bill out of the Senate that was bipartisan. In those circumstances, what the American people expect is...there should at least be the capacity to move forward on things we agree on," Obama told Karl.
"In the face of that kind of dysfunction, what I can do is scour our authorities to try to make progress," Obama said, adding that any action on his part must indeed stay within the 'confines of executive power'.