According to a story at Bloomberg online, Texas Senator John Cornyn says “momentum is building” against the comprehensive immigration reform bill now pending in the U.S. Senate. Here are some excerpts from the story:
The Senate will need 60 votes on June 26 to resume debate on the biggest overhaul of U.S. immigration policy since 1986. The measure, Bush’s top domestic priority, would create a guest- worker program and a path to legal status for 12 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
Cornyn cited fellow Texan Kay Bailey Hutchison, as well as Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson of Georgia, as examples of Republicans who may have supported the measure and are now opposed. Supporters said they weren’t counting on those senators to reach 60 votes.
A June 7 Senate vote fell 15 short of the total needed, with seven Republicans joining 37 Democrats and one independent to move toward final passage. Cornyn voted in opposition.
In an attempt to resuscitate the measure, Senate leaders agreed this week on a limited package of about two dozen amendments to be considered next week.
Cornyn said that isn’t enough.
“This is a bill that was written behind closed doors by a small group of senators, and now it’s being brought to the floor again without an opportunity to offer, freely offer, amendments and to have the kind of debate that I think this topic deserves,” the senator said.
Cornyn said the congressional debate on what to do with the 12 million immigrants illegally in the U.S. has “fallen short” because it has focused only on whether to give them citizenship or deport them.
The current proposal, which would let undocumented immigrants gain legal status after paying a fine, isn’t sufficient punishment for people in this country illegally, the senator said. “It looks like we’re selling American citizenship,” he said.
Cornyn said the U.S. would be in “big trouble” if failure to pass immigration legislation blocked an increase in the number of visas for skilled workers, as sought by technology companies including Google Inc., owner of the most popular Internet search engine, and Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software maker.
“This is more than just about low-skilled, relatively poorly educated individuals who are picking crops or working on construction sites,” he said.
“This is about keeping the best and the brightest, the kind of people who train in American universities and who we end up now, under our current policy, sending home so they can compete with us and take jobs overseas,” the senator said. “I actually would like to see us pass comprehensive immigration reform.”
With the backing of Democrats who backed the legislation earlier this month, supporters will need almost two dozen Republicans to move forward.
“We’ll find out on Tuesday if there’s 60 senators,” Cornyn said. “It really changes minute by minute.”