Hutchison Tries to Salvage Immigration Reform Bill

Republican Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is joining with a GOP congressman from Indiana to try to salvage an immigration reform bill stalled in Washington. Hutchison's plan would create a private guest worker program, but not until a process that determines that the borders are secure. Chad Pergram reports from Capitol Hill.

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The House and Senate okayed radically different immigration reform packages, but are stymied in a legislative cul-de-sac over how to reach a compromise. Conservative House Republicans contend the senate bill gives too many illegal immigrants a trail to citizenship while Senate supporters claim the House plan only focuses on border security.Kay Bailey Hutchison's proposal is a hybrid of both and one she hopes will create inertia.

"This is meant to jumpstart, hopefully a conference committee that the president can sign."

But some house conservatives like Texas Republican Lamar Smith, aren't impressed.

"This is just a proposal that's been made without any legislative language to see what the response is."

Democratic Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee says the biggest problem with Hutchison's bill is that it doesn't involve Democrats.

"Talking into a mirror, talking to your own party, certainly begs the question whether or not you can get any legitimate response going forward."

But house majority leader John Boehner of Ohio described the plan as a quote "contribution." as did GOP Texas senator John Cornyn.

"More power to anybody who's come up with a new idea that can knock us off dead center."

But Cornyn's skeptical Hutchison's idea would be effective. That's why short of an immigration bill, Cornyn's called on President Bush to approve nearly $4 billion in emergency spending to secure the border.

"Unless we're actually going to fund the programs that we've passed we might as well not bother."

For Houston Public Radio, I'm Chad Pergram on Capitol Hill.