Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Compromise Immigration Bill Stalls

Immigration Compromise Faces New Opposition
Proposal Stays Alive, But Foes Lie in Wait

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 22, 2007; A01

The Senate voted last night to move forward on an overhaul of immigration laws, but even proponents of the delicate compromise proposal conceded that the furor over the deal was surpassing their expectations and endangering the plan.

The 69 to 23 vote masked deep troubles from the right flank of the Senate, as well as from the left. Opponents of even conducting a debate on the measure included some unexpected voices, such as freshman Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Bernard Sanders, an independent liberal from Vermont. Several conservatives -- and some liberals -- made it clear that they cast a vote to proceed only in order to fundamentally change the proposed legislation in the coming days.

With dozens of amendments planned, traps being laid by opponents could upset the fragile coalition that drafted the measure. What's more, Senate leaders gave up hope last night that they could pass the bill this week, ensuring it will be left hanging over a week-long Memorial Day recess. That will allow the opposition to gather strength before a final vote can be scheduled next month.

"Our plan is a compromise. It involved give-and-take in the best traditions of the United States Senate. For each of us who crafted it, there are elements that we strongly support and elements we believe could be improved. No one believes this is a perfect bill," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.), the deal's chief Democratic architect. "The world is watching to see how we respond to the current crisis. Let's not disappoint them."

Senate leadership aides said yesterday that the proposal could probably muster the support of about 30 Republicans and 30 Democrats -- just enough to beat a filibuster, which was all but promised yesterday by conservatives.

The bill would grant legal status to virtually all the estimated 12 million undocumented workers in the country, create a temporary-worker program, tighten border controls, crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants, and create a point system for future immigration to de-emphasize family ties in favor of educational attainment and work skills.

About a dozen senators who drafted the compromise are to meet every day this week to review amendments.

"The grand bargainers will hold together," ventured Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), a lead negotiator, "but there are not 51 of us."

Supporters had expected opposition from both ends of the political spectrum. But they conceded they were taken aback by the furious response over the weekend, especially from conservatives, who declared that the legislation is nothing short of amnesty for lawbreakers. more

I realize that immigration reform is a difficult issue in which those senators and Reps. from border states are under much more pressure than others. I also realize that some leaders of both political parties want to legitimize those currently here illegally as they think they'll be able to count on their support on key issues which creates political pressure on many of our elected "leaders". however what may need to be done in order to actually get the ball rolling is two bills. One in which those issues that can garner majority support is passed and then they can bicker about the rest. As it stands right now the Dem's are looking mighty ineffective despite having a majority in both houses. If the current trend continues we'll have gone from having a lame duck president to having a lame duck government and that'll hit home really hard with election season starting in just 6 mos.