Senate extends debate on immigration bill into June

first_imgDemocrats plan to offer amendments to eliminate or scale back a new program for temporary workers, because they say that it would create a large group of second-class workers who would not be allowed to become citizens and that it would adversely affect the wages and working conditions of Americans in some industries. Republicans have drafted amendments to scale back the legalization program and to designate English as the national language. Reid’s decision to extend debate on the measure came after four hours of speeches on the floor in which supporters and opponents of the bill agreed that the nation had lost control of its borders, but disagreed on almost everything else. Leading the opposition to the bill, which the president says he wants to sign in its current form, were three Republican senators: Jim Bunning of Kentucky, Jeff Sessions of Alabama and David Vitter of Louisiana. Sessions said the measure was written behind closed doors, with no hearings or review by the Senate Judiciary Committee and no cost estimate by the Congressional Budget Office. WASHINGTON – Critics of a comprehensive immigration bill fought back in the Senate on Monday, with lawmakers from both parties seeking to alter the measure substantially and Senate leaders agreeing to extend debate beyond the Memorial Day recess. Those developments made clear that the bill faced many obstacles before the Senate votes on it, even though it overcame its first hurdle on Monday, a simple vote to begin debate on the hugely contentious measure. “There just simply is not enough time on this massive, massively important piece of legislation to do it all” in one week, said the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, D-Nev. The outlook for the bill is uncertain. In the House, Democratic leaders say dozens of Republican votes would be needed for passage. Some people who voted to take up the measure on Monday said they did not support the bill in its current form but hoped to improve it with amendments. As written, it would offer legal status to most of the 12 million illegal immigrants, strengthen border security and increase penalties for employers of illegal immigrants. “The American people were not in those meetings,” Sessions said. “There are 85 senators who have no idea what’s in the bill.” If Senate leaders had pushed the bill to passage in one week, Sessions said, that would have been “a railroad job, for sure.” The bill offers “pure unadulterated amnesty,” Vitter said. “If the American people knew what was in this bill, there would be a massive outcry against it.” Bunning said the bill would “reward lawbreakers” with “a large-scale get-out-of-jail-free pass.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img