Senate scuttles immigration reform again

WASHINGTON The U.S. Senate has derailed immigration reform for a second time in two months by once again failing to push a proposal forward to a vote.

Senate leaders failed Thursday to muster the 60 votes needed to approve cloture, or an end of debate, on the bipartisan Kennedy-Kyl bill. The measure was championed by the National Restaurant Association as a good starting point for overhauling the nation’s immigration laws, which are widely viewed as ineffective in halting an influx of illegal aliens. The association indicated that it hoped to adjust such provisions as a halving of the number of immigrants who are currently permitted into the country every year on worker’s visas, and extensive record-keeping requirements.

Other parties objected to such core provisions as a mechanism to grant legal status to aliens who are currently in the nation illegally. Opponents view that as amnesty, a view not held by the restaurant industry.

Had proponents been able to rouse the 14 more yea votes needed for cloture, the bill would have moved forward to a vote by the Senate. Instead, they encountered the same resistance they did in early June, when cloture was similarly defeated.

But this time, many pundits asserted, the measure looks dead. “It is a disappointment,” President Bush, a vocal advocate of immigration reform, told reporters in Newport, R.I. later on Thursday. “A lot of us worked hard to see if we couldn’t find common ground and it didn’t work.”

The NRA acknowledged "extreme disappointment" with Tuesday's events.

"The Senate solved nothing today," said John Gay, the association's senior vice president of government affairs and public policy. "Millions still live in the shadows of our society while contributing to it, employers still face uncertainty about their labor force, and the borders remain unsecure. These issues are not going away and will have to be addressed.”