Possible Amendment Deal in the Senate?
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 today. 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, R-S.C., said. 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 this bill." 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 sway them. 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 Schneider contributing