The full Senate began debating immigration reform on Wednesday, March 29. Senator Frist's enforcement-heavy bill is the starting point for debate, but Sen. Specter will offer the Judiciary Committee's comprehensive immigration bill as a substitute on Thursday, March 30. Please call your Senators and urge them to support the Committee's comprehensive bill!
The debate will continue until next week, without any votes on the bills overall. Amendments can and will be offered and some will be voted on, but many may be "stacked" until the end of debate next week. The current operating assumption is that amendments will be based on the Specter bill, not the Frist bill, but that could change.
NEXT WEEK TUESDAY (4/4): Cloture motions will be filed on both the Frist and Specter bills, which will trigger a 30-hour deadline.
NEXT WEEK THURSDAY (4/6): Cloture VOTES will happen, first on Specter, second on Frist. What this means is that the Specter bill, as amended to that point, will require 60 votes to pass. If that vote fails, then there will be a vote on Frist, also requiring 60 votes. If that too fails, there will be no bill coming out of the Senate.
At this point, our assessment is that it MAY be possible to win 60 votes on Specter. IF we won this vote, then the Specter bill, as amended on the Senate floor, would be the bill that COULD go to conference with the House Sensenbrenner bill (HR 4437). It is unclear, given all the recent momentum and White House involvement, whether the House would want to go to conference with a Specter/Senate bill, or whether the House would decline and let the session end with a stalemate.
Every Senator needs to be hearing from pro-immigrant advocates about the need for responsible, comprehensive reform! Call them and ask them to support the Senate Judciary Committee Bill. The following is a link to the AILA website to find out your senator's information:
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