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On Immigration Reform, Listen to What Majority Leader Reid Says, Not What the Chattering Class Hears

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Nothing Has Changed, Reid Still Backs Reform

Washington, DC – Despite a spate of headlines this morning to the contrary, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has made his commitment to bringing immigration reform to the Senate floor this year crystal clear.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Though it may disappoint breathless headline writers and purveyors of conventional wisdom, who used Reid’s remarks as fodder for their own beliefs about the politics of immigration, we remain on track for comprehensive immigration reform this year and confident about Senator Reid’s commitment to the issue.”

Yesterday, Reid was asked by Capitol Hill press to say what issues would make it to the Senate floor during the next work period, which ends with the Memorial Day recess.  He was not asked about what issues would be taken up by numerous Senate committees.  Reid ticked off the issues to be taken up by the full Senate, and mentioned that neither the Supreme Court nomination nor immigration reform were slated to come to the floor in May.

But a number of reporters immediately jumped on his comments as a sign that the Majority Leader was “backtracking,” filing stories with headlines like the New York Times’ “Reid Hits Pause Button on Immigration” or POLITICO’s “Harry Reid Punts on Immigration.”  But it seems some of these outlets are more interested in what they think than what the Senate Majority Leader says.

Capitol Hill reporters should know better.  Both immigration reform and a Supreme Court nominee have to go through the Senate Judiciary Committee before they are brought to the Senate floor.  The expectation is that a Schumer-Graham immigration reform bill will be taken up by the Judiciary Committee in May, prior to consideration of a Supreme Court nomination.  In fact, Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has made it clear that as soon as a bill is ready he is prepared to move forward.

So, what did Senator Reid actually say about the issue?  Last Saturday, speaking to a crowd of 10,000 in Las Vegas, he apparently surprised pundits in Washington when he vowed to take up immigration reform in 2010, saying, “We’re going to come back, we’re going to have comprehensive immigration reform now…We need to do this this year.”

Then, once the chattering class began to misinterpret his statement from yesterday, Reid’s office issued a statement to clarify his intentions: “Make no mistake, as soon as he gets a bill from Sens. Schumer, Graham and the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Reid will bring immigration reform to the floor of the U.S. Senate, and hopes Republicans will join Democrats in doing what’s right for our country.”

“He couldn’t be any clearer—Majority Leader Reid is ready to move forward once he has a bill to work with.  All eyes now turn to Senators Schumer and Graham, who need to finish their bill so it can move through the Judiciary Committee as soon as possible,” said Sharry.

America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.