'This Week' Transcript: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is interviewed on 'This Week'

ByABC News
January 31, 2013, 1:42 PM

NEW YORK, Feb. 3, 2013— -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."

A "This Week" exclusive. With battles ahead on immigration...

RUBIO: The green card stuff doesn't even begin to happen until the enforcement happens first.

OBAMA: This pathway is real and not just a fantasy for the future.


DURBIN: You missed that point completely.

(UNKNOWN): Senator, I think you missed it.

(UNKNOWN): Let there be order.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... and your money, we sit down with the man most responsible for passing the president's agenda, Senate Leader Harry Reid, the gatekeeper, only on "This Week."

Plus, all the week's politics and Super Bowl predictions on our powerhouse roundtable, with Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman of the New York Times, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Jorge Ramos of Univision, GOP Congressman Lou Barletta, and ABC's Matthew Dowd.

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos. Reporting from ABC News headquarters, George Stephanopoulos.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Hello again. President Obama says that our headliner has the toughest job in Washington. Top Republicans complain that he makes it harder than it needs to be, and over the next year, no single senator will have more influence over the president's ambitious agenda than Democratic Leader Harry Reid.

When we met in the Capitol on Friday for this exclusive interview, he was feisty and confident, especially on this week's top issue, immigration reform.


REID: It has to get done. We have to work hard to get it done. It's really easy to write principles. To write legislation is much harder. And once we write the legislation, then you have to get it passed. But I think things are looking really good.

They're looking good for a number of reasons. One, it's the right thing to do. And, number two, the Republicans can no longer stop this. They've tried it; it hasn't worked. Look what they tried to do to me a couple years ago. Look what they tried to do with the president just this last time, and it just didn't work.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it still does seem there's going to be a big sticking point. The biggest one I can see is this tie between border security and the path to citizenship for the illegal immigrants. Senator Rubio, part of the bipartisan group of senators, has said unless you have real enforcement there, real triggers, he's not going to support the bill.


RUBIO: That trigger is critically important. Otherwise, it will never happen.


REID: You are absolutely right. But every time I've talked about this, I say there are a few things we need. Number one is border security, southern and northern border security. We have to do that. We have to have a pathway to legalization. We have to make sure that the employer sanctions work. It hasn't worked in the past, and a few other things. But, sure, we have to have security, but it's not going to -- we spent -- we have spent billions and billions of dollars in security, and that's why the border is much more secure now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But what does that mean exactly? Senator Rubio says that there has to be operational control of the borders. Can you meet that standard?

REID: I don't know what that means, and I don't think he does, either. The fact is, we have some metrics we're talking about, some numbers, and we can do that. But this legislation is going to pass. If people are looking for excuses not to vote for it...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Pass the Senate, pass the House?

REID: Well, it's certainly going to pass the Senate. And it would be a bad day for our country and a bad day for the Republican Party if they continue standing in the way of this. So the answer is yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the other big issues, the president said he wants gay and lesbians to be able to have a family preference. Senator McCain has said we shouldn't gum up the legislation with what he calls "social issues."

REID: If we have gay folks in this country who have children or they come from some other place, they should be protected just like any other child.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's the position the Republicans are saying that's too heavy to lift.

REID: 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.

STEPHANOPOULOS: There's a suspicion in the Republican Party that the president and Democrats are looking for an issue here, that they'd rather have the political issue than a policy achievement so they're going to lay out these principles and then not compromise at all.