Senate Continues To Wrestle With Immigration Bill
At the end of the Senate’s second week of debate on S. 1348, the comprehensive immigration reform bill, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pulled the bill from the floor following disagreements with opponents of the bipartisan compromise. Reid held out hope the bill would be resurrected, and late last week, Senate leaders said they were working on a plan to revive the bill as early as this week.
A series of amendments had been offered throughout the week, but most left the AgJOBS provisions intact. A major setback occurred after midnight, June 6, when the Senate passed an amendment to end a new guest worker program after five years. (H-2A workers were, however, exempted.)
Although backed by most Democrats at the behest of the trade unions, the measure had failed earlier. This time, four conservative senators who previously had opposed the amendment changed their positions in order to secure passage by a single vote – knowing it would jeopardize the bill they were really against. In an attempt to salvage the legislation, both Republican and Democratic negotiators spent Thursday, June 7, scrambling for a way to undo the guest worker vote and find a list of amendments to consider that would satisfy conservative opponents. Reid finally called for a cloture vote – the third attempt that day to cut off debate and further amendments. That cloture vote failed 45-50, and at that point Reid pulled the bill. Senate couldn’t reach agreement on how many amendments to debate, and several hundred were filed. To learn more about the bill and its defeated amendments, log on to www.safnow.org.
The American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) reacted with both disappointment and hope in the wake of the Senate’s failure to end debate and move to final passage of the bill.
“Despite all the rhetoric, this is a good bill that addresses ANLA’s priorities,” according to Craig Regelbrugge, ANLA vice president for government relations. Regelbrugge added, “We remain optimistic in view of the statesmanship and leadership of Senators Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Ted Kennedy, Arlen Specter, Dianne Feinstein, Ken Salazar, Jon Kyl, President Bush and others who are committed to moving this bill to passage.”