WASHINGTON - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Sunday that he is optimistic the Senate will pass immigration legislation.
Things are looking really good, the Nevada Democrat said on ABC's 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 proposed legislation that would set up a path for illegal immigrants to get citizenship. It would also tighten border security.
Several leading Republican members of Congress 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 Barack Obama's top second-term priorities.
But Reid - who has won the backing in the past from the National Rifle Association - would not commit to a key goal of gun control advocates: limits on the size of high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Reid said only, 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 insist 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.