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Senate Leader Reid Says Immigration Law to Pass Congress

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, speaks during a news conference after the weekly Democratic Policy Committee meeting in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Lawmakers will work together and enact legislation to change U.S. immigration policies, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Four Democratic and four Republican senators released on Jan. 28 a framework for the most comprehensive immigration law revamp in almost three decades. Their plan, which has yet to be drafted into legislation, includes a path to citizenship for some of the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, tougher border security and stronger prohibitions against racial profiling.

“This legislation is going to pass,” said Reid, a Nevada Democrat. “It’s certainly going to pass the Senate. It would be a bad day for our country and a bad day for the Republican Party if they continue standing in the way of this.”

Asked whether legislation would make it through the Republican-controlled House, Reid said: “the answer is yes.” Republican resistance to letting the children of gay and lesbian immigrants come to the U.S. is another “excuse” for blocking any proposals, he said. “The American people are past excuses.”

A day after the immigration proposal came out, President Barack Obama said he wanted to see a law passed by mid-year. His senior advisers outlined plans in a Jan. 29 conference call with more than a dozen business executives, including Joe Echevarria, chief executive officer of Deloitte LLP; Dan Akerson, chief executive officer of General Motors Co.; Greg Brown, CEO of Motorola Solutions Inc.; and Steve Case, Revolution LLC CEO.

New Revenue

Reid also said on ABC that he would continue to insist on new tax revenue as part of any plan to replace $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect March 1, half from defense programs.

“There are a lot of tax loopholes that should be closed,” including tax breaks for oil companies and corporate jets, Reid said in the ABC interview, broadcast yesterday.

Republicans including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky have said they won’t agree to any new revenue beyond the tax increases in the Jan. 1 deal that averted the so-called fiscal cliff.

Asked if he was comfortable having Senator Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat accused of receiving improper gifts, serve as the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Reid said Menendez would “do a wonderful job.”

“I have confidence he did nothing wrong,” Reid said on ABC yesterday.

The U.S. Senate Ethics Committee is reviewing the allegations, said Republican Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia. The Federal Bureau of Investigation searched the West Palm Beach, Florida, office of Salomon Melgen, an eye doctor and longtime Menendez friend and donor, on Jan. 29. Menendez wrote a $58,500 check Jan. 4 to reimburse Melgen for two 2010 trips the lawmaker took to the Dominican Republic on Melgen’s private jet, according to Menendez spokeswoman Tricia Enright.

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