Immigration Bill Advances in Senate

By: Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Associated Press
By: Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Associated Press

Washington (AP) -- The Senate voted Tuesday to jump-start a stalled immigration measure to legalize millions of unlawful immigrants.

President Bush said the bill offered a "historic opportunity for Congress to act," and appeared optimistic about its passage by week's end.

The pivotal test-vote was 64-35 to revive the divisive legislation. It still faces formidable obstacles in the Senate, including bitter opposition by GOP conservatives and attempts by some waverers in both parties to revise its key elements.

Supporters needed 60 votes to scale procedural hurdles and return to the bill. A similar test-vote earlier this month found just 45 supporters, only seven of them Republicans.

Tuesday's outcome was far from conclusive, however. The measure still must overcome another make-or-break vote as early as Thursday that will also require the backing of 60 senators, and there is no guarantee that it will ultimately attract even the simple majority it needs to pass.

The Senate was preparing to begin voting as early as Tuesday afternoon on some two dozen amendments that have the potential to either sap its support or draw new backers.

Republicans and Democrats alike are deeply conflicted over the measure, which also creates a temporary worker program, strengthens border security and institutes a new system for weeding out illegal immigrants from workplaces.

Bush has mounted an unusually personal effort to defuse Republican opposition to the bill, appearing at a Senate party lunch earlier this month and dispatching two Cabinet secretaries to take up near-constant residence on Capitol Hill to push the compromise.

He called the measure a deal worthy of support. "In a good piece of legislation like this, and a difficult piece of legislation like this, one side doesn't get everything they want," he told business leaders and representatives of religious, Hispanic and agricultural communities earlier Tuesday. "It's a careful compromise."

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., an architect of the measure, sounded a similar tone. "This may not be perfect, but it is the best opportunity we have to do something significant and substantial, and I believe that the bill is good," he said.

Still, after a chaotic several weeks in which the measure survived several near-death experiences, it remained buffeted by intra-party squabbles.
As senators were preparing for the showdown vote Tuesday morning, House Republicans meeting privately on the other side of the Capitol were plotting to register their opposition through a party resolution. The measure never saw a vote for procedural reasons, but an attempt to kill it failed overwhelmingly, signaling deep GOP skepticism.

"It's clear there's a large number of the House Republicans who have serious concerns with the Senate bill," said Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, the minority leader.

(Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. )

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  • by Julia Location: Indiana on Jun 27, 2007 at 02:24 PM
    Our government officials were elected to serve in the best interest of the American people. How can this be in the best interest of the American people? We have jails over ran with immigrants now that we are supporting. Deport them we don't need the financial burden. We are giving assistance to immigrants in the form of welfare and medicare/medicaid. Our own people are suffering in need of jobs while we send jobs overseas and we give our jobs to immigrants. Politicians welfare begins at home, when we can take care of ourselves then we can think about foreigners. I'm sick and tired of my tax dollars going to sending contraceptives to foreign countries to reduce the amount of abortions or mosquito netting to Africa. I feel sorry for these countries I really do, but I am more concerned about my own. What are we doing about Katrina issues that are still unresolved. How do we explain cutting classes in schools for lack of funding. How can the government justify cutting medicaid for children of low income families. When there is not one American without health care, food, homes, jobs and educations, will our country be in a position to aide another country in need.


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