Monday, November 24, 2008

Harry Reid on Obama's First 100 Days

Reid says Democrats to tackle big issues


WASHINGTON -- Buoyed by more Democrats in the House and Senate and a Democratic president-elect, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he expects lawmakers next year to take on hot-button issues from immigration to health care.

The Nevada Democrat also said Congress will try early on to undo some of President George W. Bush's recent executive orders, including ones on environment policies.

Last week, Reid discussed his priorities for the next Congress.

QUESTION: What are your priorities for the first 100 days of the session?

ANSWER: We're going to have to take care of a lot of nominations. ... We have to finish our appropriations process. We have a number of issues to repeal -- presidential orders (Bush) put in in the last few weeks. ... On the environment, for example, we're looking at clean-air regulations.

Q: Will it be an easier pitch with more Democrats in Congress?

A: Yes, next year it will be much easier to do. ... I'll have a larger majority here; so will ( House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi. We'll have a new president. And I think the Republicans come from the same states we come from. They have a lot of issues they need help with.

Q: What failed efforts disappoint you?

A: I wish we would have passed the speculation bill dealing with oil. I wish we could have gotten more money for infrastructure. We got quite a bit. But ... we should have a major infrastructure development program in our country.

Q: With more Democrats in the Senate and the House and a Democrat in the White House, how do you see congressional efforts playing out on such issues as health care and immigration?

A: On immigration, there's been an agreement between (President-elect Barack) Obama and (Arizona Republican Sen. John) McCain to move forward on that. ... We'll do that. We have to get this economy stuff figured out first, so I think we'll have a shot at doing something on health care in the next Congress for sure.

Q: Will there be as much of a fight on immigration as last time?

A: We've got McCain and we've got a few others. I don't expect much of a fight at all. Now health care is going to be difficult. That's a very complicated issue. We debated at great length immigration. People understand the issues very well. We have not debated health care, so that's going to take a lot more time to do

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