Senate Democrats Push for Immigration Vote


WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats pushed for a vote on a bipartisan
immigration bill after Republicans foundered while trying to rally GOP
support for a compromise on what to do about the millions of illegal
immigrants now in the country.

Democrats set up a showdown over a proposal that would allow the
illegal immigrants to remain in the country and become permanent
residents after paying $2,000 fines and back taxes, learning English
and working six years.

“Are the Republicans going to stand up for comprehensive immigration reform or not?” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., asked Tuesday.

Republicans had floated a proposal Monday night and early Tuesday to
divide illegal immigrants between those who have been in the country
more than five years and those who have not.

Several rank-and-file Republicans objected, and Majority Leader Bill
Frist and fellow Republicans spent much of the day trying to find an

“I don’t know that we’re going to get a bill,” said Sen. Mike DeWine (news, bio, voting record), R-Ohio. “It’s tough.”

Sen. Harry Reid (news, bio, voting record)
of Nevada, the Democratic leader, blocked numerous attempts by
Republicans to hold votes Tuesday on selected amendments. “We do not
need a compromise. It’s in our bill,” he said and later set the stage
for a test vote on Thursday.

Democrats need 60 votes to overcome objections from conservatives on
the immigration bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee that is
being pushed by Reid.

Durbin acknowledged the votes to cut off debate and force a final
vote are not there, but said Democrats had to move because they feared
Frist was going to let the clock expire on the bill, in its second week
on the floor.

But Republicans blamed Democrats for inaction. “The other side is
delaying, postponing, obstructing and not allowing votes on
amendments,” Frist said.

The House has passed a bill that would shore up border security by
putting the military on the border, requiring employer to verify
they’ve hired legal workers and making being in the country illegally a

A strong Senate bill would mean a better bargaining position in conference committee with the House, Durbin said.

The White House repeated President Bush’s call for a temporary worker plan as a way to identify the millions of
illegal immigrants in the country. The administration said in a
statement it wants a bill that does not create “an automatic path to

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