Senate Gives New Life to Immigration Bill The Senate resumes debate on the immigration bill after passing a vote to bring the bill back to the floor. The measure provides a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented worker, and tighter border security. But the legislative road ahead for the controversial measure is seen as anything but smooth.
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Senate Gives New Life to Immigration Bill

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Senate Gives New Life to Immigration Bill

Senate Gives New Life to Immigration Bill

Senate Gives New Life to Immigration Bill

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The Senate resumes debate on the immigration bill after passing a vote to bring the bill back to the floor. The measure provides a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented worker, and tighter border security. But the legislative road ahead for the controversial measure is seen as anything but smooth.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep.

The Senate resumes debate today on the immigration bill after voting to bring it back to the floor. The measure provides a path to citizenship for the nation's 12 million undocumented workers. It also tightens border security, if it passes. But the legislative road will be anything but smooth, as NPR's Brian Naylor reports.

BRIAN NAYLOR: The 64 to 35 vote was on procedural motion, and so may have exaggerated support for the measure in the Senate. Still, those who backed the bill were happy to declare victory, even if it's a temporary one. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid praised the measure after yesterday's vote.

Senator HARRY REID (Democratic, Nevada): It's a good bill. And I would hope that everyone understands that we can't leave the system as it is now. Gee whiz. The present system is not working.

NAYLOR: The bill's opponents, meanwhile, noted that all they need to do is switch a handful of yeas to nays by Thursday, when another key vote is scheduled to kill the measure. Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota is one of those opponents.

Senator JOHN THUNE (Republican, South Dakota): Maybe there'll be enough forward momentum generated now behind this that something will happen, but I'd say that's going to be a long shot.

NAYLOR: The odds for passage are long because so is the list of amendments that senators will consider before voting to cut off debate on the bill. Some are intended to make the bill more palatable to conservatives. One would change a major provision in the legislation and require all the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to return to their native countries to apply for a temporary Z-visa.

The original proposal called for the touchback provision to apply only to those who were seeking permanent U.S. residency. If that were approved, it would likely drive many Democrats from the bill, but a Democratic amendment giving family ties more weight in the bills merit-based visa system would likely diminish Republican support.

And when Majority Leader Reid tried to move to the amendments last night, conservative Republicans objected, saying they hadn't had enough time to look at the proposals, forcing the clerk to read them aloud.

Unidentified Woman: Title, non-immigrants in the United States previously in unlawful status. Subtitle A. Z non-immigrants.

NAYLOR: After about an hour the conservatives relented, but their delaying tactics illustrate the fragile nature of the immigration coalition and the potential roadblocks ahead for the bill.

Brian Naylor, NPR New, The Capitol.

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Immigration Bill Still Faces Hurdles in Senate

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Despite White House assertions that the Senate is on track to pass the immigration bill this week, the fate of the measure is uncertain as possible amendments threaten to erode essential support.

On Tuesday, Senators voted 64-35 to resurrect the bill that had stalled earlier this month, but they have yet to consider 26 amendments that could prove to be stumbling blocks for Democrats and conservative Republicans.

One amendment being proposed by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) would require all 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to return to their native countries to apply for temporary visas. Originally, the bill required only those who were seeking permanent U.S. residency to return to their home countries.

If the Hutchison amendment is approved, the bill would likely lose some Democratic support.

Conversely, a Democratic amendment giving family ties more weight when a person is being considered for a visa would likely diminish support from Republican senators. The bill currently gives heavier consideration to an immigrant with advanced job skills and education.

Immigration reform has become a key tenet of President Bush's domestic policy. The White House worked with key Congressional leaders to come up with the compromise bill, which provides a path to citizenship for undocumented workers and tightens border security.

The bill's opponents have noted that they only need to persuade a handful of supporters to switch sides, and the measure will be a dead issue.

The next major vote is scheduled for Thursday.

From NPR reports and The Associated Press.