Calling for a "cautious" approach to gun control, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid downplayed the chances of the Senate renewing an assault-weapons ban in a weekend TV interview, suggesting he will instead move forward on measures with a better chance to pass muster in the Republican-controlled House.
"Let's be realistic," Reid said. "In the Senate, we're going to do what we think can get through the House and I'm not going to go through a bunch of these gyrations just to say we've done something. If we're really legislators, the purpose of it is to pass legislation."
Asked by an interviewer on PBS' Nevada Week in Review if the much-discussed assault-weapons ban would meet such a test, Reid suggested it wouldn't.
"Is it something that can pass the Senate? Maybe. Is it something that can pass the House? I doubt it," Reid said in the interview, which aired over the weekend and was later posted online.
President Obama is expected to present a list of gun-control measures from Vice President Joe Biden's gun-violence task force on Tuesday.
In the wide-ranging half-hour interview, Reid offered up some of his most details pronouncements on the coming legislative year. He called the coming debt-limit fight "foolish." He confidently predicted Senate passage of a bipartisan comprehensive immigration overhaul that would include a path to citizenship for those here illegally. And he said Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, whom Reid had met with earlier that day, "is about as ungrateful as anybody seems to be" and urged that U.S. troops "get out of there as quick as we can."
On the gun issue, Reid, D-Nev., said he would prefer that lawmakers pursue a "careful and cautious" path. That could include tackling thorny issues beyond guns themselves, he said.
"We have too much violence in our society," Reid said. "It's not just from guns. It's from a lot of stuff. And I think we should take a look at television, movies, video games and weapons."
He said the Senate would not "just be doing things that get a headline in a newspaper," but instead would focus on legislation "that we know we can do," with regard to guns.
While Reid downplayed the looming fight over gun-control, he elevated the coming debate over what to do about the nation's legal and illegal immigration laws.
"Immigration's our No. 1 item," Reid said. He later added, "It's going to be the first thing on our agenda."
Reid said a bipartisan group of senators, led by Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin and Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have been crafting a package.
"We may be able to come up with a bipartisan bill quicker than you think," he said, adding that the senators "have agreed tentatively on a path to citizenship, which is the big stumbling block."
"Yes, we're going to get something significant," Reid said, with a smile.
Asked about Afghanistan, Reid said he had recently met with Karzai and was not impressed: "Gee whiz, we have left our blood there and our treasury and he is about as ungrateful as anybody seems to be so I believe we should get out there, and get out of there as quick as we can."
In terms of how he intends to change the filibuster rules, Reid said he wants to eliminate the built-in debate time after a cloture vote to speed up deliberations in the Senate. He wants to “not have the 30 hours post-cloture” of debate, unless a senator is actually on the floor. He called it a “talking filibuster,” though other senators have used that moniker for a different overhaul idea.
“Let them stand and stall,” Reid said.
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