Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., promised Wednesday to use the power of his office to get immigration overhaul legislation through Congress.
“I pledge that I will do everything in my power as Majority Leader to get a bill across the finish line,” Reid said at a pro-overhaul March for Citizenship event in Las Vegas.
In his first immigration speech since a bipartisan group of senators released an overhaul proposal, Reid appeared with faith leaders as well as state and national union officials to promote passage of a comprehensive rewrite. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees president Lee Saunders also took part.
“We can’t do this piecemeal,” Reid said. “And we can’t do it without a pathway to earned citizenship.”
“Nothing short of success is acceptable to me,” Reid stressed.
The Republican-controlled House is considering taking on the issue piece by piece, rather than comprehensively. Many Republicans have spoken out against providing a path to citizenship, as the Senate bill does, saying it sends the wrong message by rewarding those who came here illegally. Hearings on aspects of the overhaul are set for after this week’s recess.
Reid urged the group to stay active in pushing for passage of the Senate measure.
“But I’ll need your help and your support to get done. You need to stay involved and keep making your voices heard,” Reid said.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is poised to take up the bipartisan bill next week, and Reid hopes to clear the bill through the full Senate before the Independence Day recess.
On Monday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., appeared with Reid at the Milken Institute Global Conference and said he sees areas of agreement on the issue with Democrats. Those areas include providing more visas to high-tech workers, developing a guest worker program and providing a path to citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants through legislation known as the DREAM Act.
He added that he hopes areas of disagreement won’t dissuade lawmakers from passing some changes if it gets to that point.
“We can do a lot and I just hope that if we get to the point where there are some issues that seem insurmountable, let’s go ahead and try to practice doing things together so we can get some things done,” Cantor said.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.