Senate leaders talk immigration, energy

The Senate returned Monday for what could be a week of considering energy efficiency legislation.

But first, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wanted to talk about immigration. He spoke in his opening remarks about how the immigration overhaul approved last year by the Senate would help the tourism industry.

“We must ensure that not only do we invite people here and they come from across the world,” the Nevada Democrat said, “but we are also facilitating the arrival and their departure.

“The Senate immigration bill would make it easier for tourists to come to America by increasing the number of customs and border control agents who process international visitors.”

The Senate in June 2013 passed that bill with strong bipartisan support, but the Republican-led House of Representatives has not taken it up, and is not expected to. It may offer smaller-scale legislation.

The Senate’s Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, Monday talked to the Senate about energy legislation.

“We should be having a debate about how to develop policies that can actually lead to lower utility bills for squeezed families, policies that can put people back to work in America’s coal country, policies that can help create the kind of well-paying jobs our constituents want and deserve and policies that can lead to a more effective use of North American energy supplies – that can help stabilize the world at a time when energy has become a weapon of states that do not hold our interests at heart,” he said.

“So it’s unacceptable that it’s been seven long years since we’ve had a real debate about energy jobs, energy independence, and energy security in the Democrat-led Senate.

“Republicans have a lot of good ideas about ways to help alleviate pressure on the Middle Class – and we have good ideas about how to create new opportunities through the use of our country’s abundant natural resources,” McConnell said. “I’m sure our Democrat friends have some good ideas too. We’d love to hear them.”