Immigration bill awaits Senate deal

WASHINGTON, April 25 (UPI) -- The new U.S. immigration bill appears to be stuck in Congress until party leaders can cut a deal on it.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., is not planning floor time for the massive immigration bill until he can reach an agreement with Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on amendments, CongressDaily reported Monday.


The bill faltered before the recess because of a dispute over amendments, and Frist ordered the bill back to committee. "We're back where we were before we left," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told CongressDaily Monday.

Judiciary Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., has said he does not want the committee to vote again on a bipartisan compromise reached before the break, and that he would prefer to make any changes on the floor.

Specter plans to hold several hearings to examine the need for immigration legislation, beginning with a session Tuesday on the economic effects of illegal immigration.

Cornyn agreed with Specter's plan to avoid another markup session. "I don't see the benefit of that," he said. "Now I think it's time for floor amendments and floor debate."


To assuage concerns among Republicans that Congress should not adopt a broad immigration overhaul bill without first securing the borders, Republicans are offering an amendment to the fiscal 2006 supplemental spending bill that would add $1.9 billion to beef up border security, CongressDaily said.

"Hopefully additional funds to border security will allow us to pass a comprehensive immigration bill," Cornyn said. That amendment, which is sponsored by Frist and Budget Chairman Judd Gregg, R-N.H., could get a vote as soon as Tuesday, aides said.

The border security initiative will be offset by reducing funding in other parts of the supplemental bill, which includes money for military operations, hurricane relief and pandemic influenza preparations.

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