The news out of D.C. is that the immigration compromise that included the AgJOBS initiative is in trouble.
Opposition has been building from business, which has been concerned over a clause of the bill that takes away businesses ability to hand pick individual people with exceptional skills for immigration while the bill was also amended in a vote that cut in half the number of guest workers.
A vote on an amendment seemed to break the coalition that had held together to support the “grand compromise” on immigration reform:
The Senate imperiled the legislation earlier today when it voted 49-48 to adopt an amendment by North Dakota Democrat Byron Dorgan to force expiration of the guest-worker plan in five years unless Congress renews it.
The guest-worker plan is a cornerstone of the fragile agreement worked out between Democrats and Republicans…
As the bill looks increasingly unlikely to get through the Senate, much less through Congress, both parties were looking to assign blame:
Reid and the Democrats sought to portray the failure as President Bush’s responsibility, pointing to a lack of Republican support for limiting debate even though reforming the nation’s immigration laws is a top priority for the White House.
“The headline is going to be: ‘The president fails again’,” Reid said.
Perhaps, though we suspect that voters know the Democrats run the Congress, if a bill doesn’t get to the President’s desk, it is more likely to be the Democrats that are held responsible. Although we are not sure the bill is so popular its demise will hurt either party.
President Bush has endorsed the bill but his treatment of Republican doubters has alienated many Republicans:
As time ran short for an agreement that could rescue the bill, Reid said Bush must lean on Republicans to back a deal that the president spearheaded and most Democrats are eager to support.
“If the president has any clout at all within his own Senate Republican delegation, shouldn’t he be pushing to have Republicans vote for this?” Reid said.
In a hint of how contentious the measure is within Republican ranks, however, Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi, the GOP whip, said Bush might have better luck steering clear of the issue.
“I hope he concentrates on the G-8,” Lott said, referring to the annual meeting of industrialized nations Bush is attending in Germany.
“His comments last week were not helpful,” Lott added, alluding to Bush’s remark — repeated twice last week — that those who deride the bill as amnesty are trying to frighten Americans.
We have run many articles on immigration and AgJOBS: Doubtful Immigration Policy, Pundit’s Mailbag — Immigration, Straight Talk On Immigration, Immigration And The Poultry Industry, Reducing Labor With Technology, AgJOBS Take 2, Pundit’s Mailbag — AgJOBS vs. Lou Dobbs, Pundit’s Mailbag — AgJOBS Bill Needs More Support, AgJOBS Gets ‘Pull’ From PMA While United And Others Provide The Push, Compromise Reached On Immigration Reform, But The Battle Is Far From Over. Pundit’s Mailbag — ‘Unworkable’ Immigration Plan and most recently Pundit’s Mailbag — English and Immigration.
Just the other day, United Fresh was imploring industry members to speak out:
The bill being debated, Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, S. 1348, would address 1) enhanced border security, 2) reform of the current employment verification system 3) a transition to legal status of the 12 million illegal aliens currently in the U.S., and 4) provisions for future temporary worker programs to fill jobs where there are insufficient U.S. workers.
Yet we keep getting the sense that the attempt at a “grand compromise” is so large, involving so many interests, it may collapse of its own weight.
If the bill fails, it will not be for lack of produce industry effort. It will speak to the limitations of an industry to impact legislation on an issue that affects our country in so many ways.