U.S. Senate leader pushes immigration reform bid
Even with enormously difficult to pass legislation on healthcare and climate change topping the Obama administration’s agenda, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid believes he can still muscle through a bill to overhaul U.S. immigration policies later this year.
President Barack Obama has said he wanted immigration reform done this year, although his own spokesman acknowledged on Monday that they may only be able to begin the debate on the issue. “I can see the president’s desire for it to happen, but understanding that … currently where we sit, the math makes that more difficult than the discussion,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.
But that hasn’t stopped Reid, who caught a lot of people off guard a few weeks ago when he predicted the Senate would act this year.
“I’ve said right here that we have to finish healthcare. We have to do energy before we get to immigration reform. But being third on the list is pretty good,” Reid told reporters on Tuesday. He denied that rising unemployment, expected to top 10 percent amid a deep recession, would slow reform efforts.
“What is impacting doing comprehensive immigration reform is getting floor time to do it. I think the votes are there to do it,” he said.
On Thursday, Obama will host a closed-door meeting with key lawmakers to discuss the issue and Democratic Senator Charles Schumer, chairman of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee, plans on Wednesday to outline his principles for legislation he will offer.
- Photo credit: Reuters/Henry Romero (protesters outside the U.S. embassy in Mexico)