Reid lists minimum wage, visa program as goals for 2016
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBottom line Voters need to feel the benefit, not just hear the message Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama MORE’s (D-Nev.) goals for his final year in office include raising the minimum wage, revisiting the visa waiver program and finding funding for transportation projects.

He listed those among a number of items he hopes to accomplish in 2016 in a Saturday interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Reid announced in March he would not run for re-election, making 2016 his last year in office.


While Republicans continue to hold the majority in Congress, Reid and Democrats in the Senate have been able to block Republican priorities and find compromise on must-pass bills.

Reid told the Review-Journal he would continue pushing to raise the federal minimum wage. Reid has backed raising it to $12 per hour, while other Democrats have said it should be $15.

"I hope that we can do something for the middle class — raise the minimum wage and do something about the fact that my daughters, my granddaughters, should be able to get paid the same amount as a man that does the same work," Reid said.

"We have a tremendous problem out there with the debt of college students and their parents. We should relieve that somewhat."

In December, Congress passed a five-year, $305 billion highway bill, first long-term national transportation spending package in a decade.

Reid said he wants to see more funding for transportation projects, which he thinks would help tourism in his home state of Nevada. But he acknowledged transportation funding is unlikely to be revisited.

"We have a highway bill now, which I guess people will use as an excuse not to do more," he said. "Which is unfortunate."

One thing he does think could be revisited is changes to the visa waiver program. The program allows citizens from 38 countries to travel to the United States without a visa.

Passed as part of the massive omnibus spending bill in December, the changes mean travelers will not be able to take part in the program if they are dual citizens of Iran, Syria or other countries linked to terrorism, or if they have visited those countries within the last five years.

Reid told the Review-Journal the changes could have some unintended consequences.  

“There are a couple of problems with it," Reid said. "The Republicans pushed it too hard and too fast."