Senators nix Reid's plan to roll out immigration bill 

Politically embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may want to bring an immigration reform bill to the floor to invigorate the Democratic base in his home state of Nevada, but the rest of the Senate is far less enthusiastic.

Democrats, who control 59 votes, need at least one Republican to bring an immigration reform bill to the Senate floor. One of their biggest hopes for that bipartisan deal made it very clear he wants no part of a bill this year.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who was to co-author a bipartisan immigration reform bill along with Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said the Senate should not take up a bill until the borders are first secured.

Graham, who spoke at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Homeland Security Department, told Secretary Janet Napolitano that any attempt to pass reform this year would "crash and burn" and be "absolutely devastating" to future attempts at a bipartisan compromise.

President Obama and Democratic leaders in recent days have revived the idea of taking up a comprehensive immigration bill, prompted in part by their opposition to Arizona's new law aimed at curbing illegal immigration.

Democrats, especially Reid, also want to energize Hispanic voters, who make up a growing percentage of the electorate, particularly in Nevada. Reid said Tuesday he is "committed" to taking up a bill this year, adding, "Others may have given up on immigration reform; I haven't."

But an informal poll of Democratic senators shows there is little appetite for taking up such a bill, especially with the election season approaching and several Democratic seats in peril.

"I think generally, it's a very difficult time to do it," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Feinstein pointed out that even if the political will exists, there may not be enough time on the Senate calendar, given the need to hold votes on a new Supreme Court justice and a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia.

Senate Democrats are also planning an attempt to take up a major energy and global warming bill, which Reid said would come before an immigration bill.

"Most of us feel like the climate change issue is ready to go, and we'd like to see a full debate on it," said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md.

Schumer, the immigration bill's lead sponsor, had little to say about progress on a bill, other than, "We're trying."

Most Republicans and even some moderate Democrats, including Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., are calling for border security problems to be addressed first before taking up a comprehensive reform bill, citing the escalating drug war on the U.S.-Mexican border.

"It won't pass," said Republican Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. "It will just poison the well, and that's not good for legislation next year."

sferrechio@washingtonexaminer.com

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