An appearance by Bush on Capitol Hill this week to prod action on the measure — and his subsequent OK to immediately pumping a new $4.4 billion into border security — helped set the stage for its resurrection. But it was raw trolling for votes by key Republicans and Democrats that made the difference, said lawmakers and senior officials involved in the talks.And:
Allowing votes on the proposals "has as its goal bringing more people on board," Sen. Lindsey Graham (news, bio, voting record) of South Carolina, a lead Republican negotiator, said in an interview Friday. "They're going to get input that will make them feel better," Graham said of wavering Republicans.
"I do believe that with this new process, there will be enough votes to get to final passage, but the pressure's immense," Graham said. "I'll be going senator to senator" next week to persuade Republicans to back it.
Bush plans to keep blocks of time open next week in order to be able to jump in as needed with pointed remarks and calls or meetings with lawmakers, aides said.
Corker, Hutchison, and Alexander seem on the fence:
For some GOP holdouts, the promise of votes to make the bill more punitive toward the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants who would get lawful status might be enough to persuade them to support moving ahead.
Negotiators hope that's the case for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who wants to toughen a requirement that unlawful immigrants seeking green cards return home to apply for permanent legal residency. Under the emerging framework, Hutchison would get a vote on her proposal — co-sponsored by Tennessee Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, two other Republicans regarded as potentially persuadable — to require all illegal immigrants to go home within two years in order to receive a Z visa to live and work lawfully in the U.S.
"Grand Bargain" Opponent Jim DeMint's not optimistic:
Seemingly resigned to the bill's passage, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., now says he plans to block a conference that would be needed to reconcile House and Senate versions before an immigration bill could be signed into law, his office said on Friday.
But this story also hints at the tenuousness of the coalition....time will tell....