Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) discussed how the provision of the House immigration bill that would make illegal presence in the U.S. a federal felony would affect the passage of a comprehensive bill.

We have a bill in the House that has passed that declares anyone that comes here without proper papers as a felon. We have the majority leader, who has simply dismissed Senate legislation dealing with immigration as not worthy of consideration. And then we have Chairman Sensenbrenner -- I read the remarks here on the Senate floor earlier today. The reason he has the provision in the bill making everyone a felon is because the White House asked him to do it, and that was confirmed on the 16th of this month.

So I've got to have some protection in conference because it appears to me that they want no bill.


The Q&A continued
Q What do you need -- what kind of insurance do you need from them?

SEN. REID: (Chuckles.) I have to have assurance that there's not going to be a filibuster by amendment. I have to have an agreement on who's going to be on the conference committee. It happens all the time. We -- it's always -- the appropriation committee puts all the members of the committee on conference. It happens in Armed Services all the time. It's happened on Judiciary on many occasions. We always work to get a conference committee, especially during these last five and a half years, when the Republicans have basically stiffed us on all conferences.

So what I need to have is an agreement on amendments and who's going to be on the conference. Seems pretty simple.

Reid also discussed the lack of legislation passed during the current congressional session.  

We have just a few weeks left, actually weeks left and we'll finish this session of Congress. And we really accomplished almost nothing. The issues so important to the American people -- of course, energy, education, health care, the situation in Iraq, progress is not being made, hasn't been made. We've reached out to the majority to work with us on these issues, and nothing has happened.

A perfect example of that is immigration. I have said, "How about 10 amendments on each side?" No, that's really -- as I understand, that's not enough. We still haven't worked out anything on conference. So it appears to me we're in a big stall again, like we are on most everything around here. There's been no sign-off from the White House, so nothing's happening.

I hope that's not the case, I hope we can work something out in these next few weeks, but the past hasn't been very favorably inclined to move forward in legislation.