May 24, 2006

Immigration bill clears Senate hurdle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A sweeping overhaul of U.S.
immigration law cleared a test vote in the Senate on Wednesday,
setting the stage for passage this week and a bruising battle
with the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Senate voted 73-25 to limit the remaining debate on the
immigration bill that couples border security and enforcement
with a guest worker program and a plan to give millions of
illegal immigrants a chance to earn U.S. citizenship.

A bipartisan coalition held together through several
attempts by opponents to unravel the compromise legislation.
Supporters said they expected the bill's central elements to
survive any remaining challenges and that the Senate would
likely pass the bill on Thursday.

President George W. Bush backs a comprehensive approach
similar to the Senate bill, but tough negotiations are expected
with the House and it was unclear a final bill will emerge
before the November congressional elections.

Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said it was a "50-50
proposition" whether House Republicans are willing to accept a
comprehensive approach beyond the border security and
enforcement measure passed in December.