by: Chad Pergram, May 12, 2006 5:05:00 am
It was just before the Senate's Easter break and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada stood shoulder to shoulder in a rare, dual appearance to announce they crafted an immigration deal.
"We're looking like we may be able to dance this afternoon…..The Democratic leader and I wanted to jointly that we've made huge progress over the last several hours…indeed from last evening."
But 12 hours...the deal blew up. And Senators went home for the holiday...without a bill. That disappointed Republican Texas Senator John Cornyn.
"The problem was this great bridging of differences and compromise announced, it fell apart pretty quickly and it really was related to a breakdown in the usual process whereby there are amendments offered and debates and then up or down votes."
But Frist promised he'd take another stab at immigration by Memorial Day. And Cornyn said...the timeout helped pressure leaders to forge a compromise.
"People are learning things about our broken immigration system that infuriate them."
But Senate approval of a bill only launches the process. Last December, the House okayed a more stringent bill focused on deportation and border enforcement. And lawmakers now have to resolve differences between what the House voted for and what the Senate wants. For Houston Public Radio, I'm Chad Pergram on Capitol Hill.