Senate Majority Harry Reid, D-Nev., with Senate Majority Whip Sen. Dick… (Pablo Martinez Monsivais…)
WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Sunday he is optimistic the Senate will pass immigration legislation, suggesting Republicans will have no choice but to join the push for a sweeping overhaul.
“Things are looking really good,” the Nevada Democrat said in an interview on ABC News’ “This Week.” “Republicans can no longer stop this. They’ve tried it; it hasn’t worked.”
A bipartisan group of senators – four Democrats and four Republicans – last week unveiled a blueprint for comprehensive legislation that would tighten border security and set up a path for illegal immigrants to get citizenship.
U.S. immigration law: Decades of debate
And several leading GOP lawmakers have noted that the party, which lost heavily among Latino voters in the 2012 presidential election, must take action on the immigration issue.
But many conservatives, particularly in the House, remain leery of allowing the estimated 11 million immigrants who entered the country illegally to become citizens.
Other issues important to Democrats – such as giving the foreign partners of gay and lesbian Americans a family preference in the immigration system – also remain major partisan stumbling blocks.
Reid brushed that issue aside. “If they’re looking for an excuse not to support this legislation, this is another one, but the American people are past excuses. They want this legislation passed,” he said.
The Senate leader also was bullish on prospects for passing new gun control legislation, another one of President Obama’s top priorities for his second term.
But the veteran lawmaker – who has won the backing in the past from the National Rifle Assn. – would not commit to a key goal of gun control advocates: limits on the size of high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Reid would only say: “I think that's something we definitely have to take a look at.”
Looking ahead to the next round of budget negotiations, the majority leader continued to insist that any more efforts to reduce federal deficits must include new tax revenue.
Republicans, by contrast, are insisting on only spending cuts.
“The American people are on our side,” Reid said. “The American people don’t believe in these austere things. We believe that the rich should contribute. We believe we should fill those tax loopholes, get rid of them, I should say. And that’s where we need to go.”