Reid vows that he doesn’t want to negotiate numbers of amendment votes, but what else is he getting himself into? Are we nearing a deal- here is a another quick update from Congress Daily:
Senators Exchange Lists, Attempt To Get Border Bill Going
Senators negotiating an immigration bill exchanged amendment
lists Tuesday in an effort to revive the stalled bill.
Negotiators said the list, with about 10 amendments for each
side, will likely be finalized and sent to Majority Leader Reid
Among the amendments is border security language to create a
mandatory fund of roughly $4.4 billion, available upon
enactment, to pay for enforcement “triggers” on which the bill’s
guestworker and Z visa programs depend, Sen. Lindsey Graham,
The amendment, which also will be sponsored by Republican
Conference Chairman Jon Kyl of Arizona and Sen. Mel Martinez,
R-Fla., will increase penalties for foreigners who overstay
their visas, Graham said.
Graham said the enforcement fund would cover the cost of all
of the triggers in the bill and be recouped with fees from the
guestworker and Z visa programs.
Graham also is responding to a request from Georgia
Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, sent to
President Bush today, calling for a supplemental funding bill to
fund the bill’s security initiatives.
If the enforcement amendment is not acceptable in floor
debate, Graham said negotiators would pitch a supplemental
appropriations bill “very soon, within days” after a final vote
on a comprehensive bill.
Judiciary ranking member Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said immediate
funding for border security has traction among Republicans. “I
think there’s a lot of support for that. We do intend to pay for
it, and I think it will be smart to pay for it up front so the
American people know that it’s going to be done.”
For Republicans, the amendment list is designed to win
support to end debate.
“We can pass a cloture vote if in fact it isn’t about Sen.
Reid not giving all the Republican amendments that the
[Republican] leader thought he had to have,” said Martinez. “If
[Minority Leader] McConnell is satisfied that we had our
amendments, we will get the cloture vote on the Senate floor.
And I think we will then have over 65 votes for final passage of
Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas,
are among those with amendments on the approved GOP list, and
they both said Tuesday that acceptance of their amendments might
Thune’s amendment would strike the probationary Z visa for
illegal immigrants that would go into effect before enforcement
goals are met. “If we can get my amendment, that obviously
changes things,” he said.
Hutchison indicated her support would be bolstered if she is
able to offer, and even pass, her amendment to require illegal
immigrants to return to their home countries to apply for a Z
visa within two years. Hutchison has said her amendment would
remove many GOP concerns about “amnesty” for illegal acts.
“I would not make any commitments unless I look at the whole
bill. But certainly, if we took the amnesty out, it would be a
major step forward,” Hutchison said.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., a vocal opponent of the bill, is
unmoved. “I don’t know there’s any chance that they could just
bring up something in a few days by having a few amendments,
like has been … bandied about. I don’t think that’s a good
idea,” he said.
Bush’s visit with Senate Republicans Tuesday might not have
swayed reluctant Republicans, but McConnell said that was not
the point. “We didn’t expect anybody to stand up and holler that
they had an epiphany,” he said.
Reid said he will consider GOP proposals after the chamber
finishes its energy debate, but he wants assurances Republicans
can produce 25 votes.
“I’m not going to get into three amendments, six amendments,
two amendments on each side,” Reid said. “I did that once. I’m
not dancing that tune again.” By Fawn Johnson, with Ben