Republican Senators Eye Immigration Concessions


If they fail to secure the border first, you can bet heads will roll in 2014.
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As the Senate Judiciary Committee wrapped another block of its dayslong markup of immigration legislation Tuesday, Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., quipped he was glad such a large space was reserved for the meeting because “the amount of love in this room is amazing.”

But like any affection in Congress, the love between Republicans and Democrats expressed Tuesday was transactional and, perhaps most dauntingly for key negotiators on the sweeping bill, likely ephemeral.

The most significant action taken Tuesday on the underlying bill, negotiated by a bipartisan “gang of eight” senators, was to substantially amend provisions on high-tech visas in an attempt to win the support of Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah. The newly negotiated H-1B visa deal dramatically increased the caps for high-skilled visas without accounting for domestic economic conditions and was brokered between Hatch and Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.

But not all senators were comfortable with the changes, chiefly Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, who said the amended version of the language would not provide incentives for companies to hire higher-cost American workers first. Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., who previously worked with Grassley on the high-tech visa issue, appreciated some of the Iowa senator’s concerns but voted for the new agreement.

And though the deal worked to secure Hatch’s backing for the immigration framework in committee, he and other Republicans are demanding more concessions before they back a final bill on the Senate floor.



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