US immigration bill heads for Senate approval
Senate supporters of landmark immigration legislation looked ahead to passage of a measure along lines set by President Bush.
Senate supporters of landmark immigration legislation looked ahead to passage of a measure along lines set by President George W Bush.
But they also signalled a willingness to seek common ground with conservatives whose House version would be far tougher on millions of men and women who are in the country illegally.
With Senate approval assured on Thursday, Arlen Specter, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said, "Does anybody have a better approach? Not yet. But we're still open for business."
"If there are some unneeded and unwanted complexities in this legislation, they could probably be smoothed out," said Republican Sen John McCain. He said it was good news that new suggestions were coming from the House.
The Senate bill's passage, long assumed, was assured with a decision to limit debate.
That 73-25 vote set the stage for final approval on Thursday in what will be a bipartisan ratification of legislation that calls for increased border security, a new guest worker program and a shot at citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants.
"I will be voting for it," said Majority Leader Bill Frist, as Republican, after proceedings ended yesterday.
By contrast, legislation passed last year by the Republican-controlled House is generally limited to border security.
It would expose all of the estimated 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants in the country to felony charges, and it contains no guest worker program.