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May 11, 2007

Congress' clock ticking on immigration debate

Senate Republicans pledge to block any measure that sidesteps bipartisan efforts at negotiation. By Jay Newton-Small Bloomberg News, Article Last Updated: 05/10/2007 03:10:40 AM MDT

Senate Republicans said they will try to block the start of debate on an immigration overhaul because negotiators haven't yet reached an agreement on the details of the legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is trying to force lawmakers to come to an agreement by beginning debate on legislation that the Senate approved and the House refused to take up last year. Reid said debate must proceed next week because the issue has been scheduled for months, and the Senate has no other time for what may be a two-week debate.

"Any effort to move legislation on this issue that isn't the result of the ongoing bipartisan discussions would be a clear signal from Democrats that they are not yet serious about immigration reform," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and three other Republicans wrote in a letter to Reid that they "will only support moving forward with legislation that is a product of the ongoing bipartisan discussions."

Lawmakers are trying to reach an accord on legislation to increase border security, create a temporary worker program and create a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented workers already in the U.S. illegally.
Negotiators have said they are close to a deal, though there are still some sticking points, particularly on whether those seeking to come to the U.S. should be judged on a points structure where education and skills become factors.

Speaking at the news conference, Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., said there's "a long way to go" to break the current immigration logjam, but emphasized the window for compromise was closing rapidly.
"If it does not happen in the next two weeks, it probably will not happen under the administration of George Bush," Salazar said.
Salazar said Reid gave "fair warning" to the White House by saying months ago that he planned to move immigration legislation through the Senate in May.

Denver Post staff writer Christa Marshall contributed to this report.

at; http://www.bloomberg.com

Posted by VisaLawyer at May 11, 2007 07:40 AM

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