Thursday, July 26, 2007

When the Senate takes up consideration of the farm bill (which the House is now considering), it may also consider adding AgJobs, which could include some legalization program as well as authorizing an increase in immigrant farm workers (though most of the details are being kept pretty close). The Hill reports that Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Craig (R-ID) are attempting to coordinate support for AgJobs and describes some legislative manuevers going on. It could get complicated:
“This is the problem, that they sock it with a bunch of amendments or we have a brouhaha,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who plans to talk this week with immigration bill opponents to see whether they would push back against her evolving strategy.

Idaho Republican Larry Craig, another supporter of the agriculture-jobs measure, expects a vote in September and said the senators could also attempt to attach it to appropriations legislation by including funding for increased border security.
Sen. Harkin is also concerned about what could happen if AgJobs gets to the floor:
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the Agriculture Committee chairman, is cool to the idea for fear that it could jeopardize the farm bill. “With the Senate floor, you never know what kind of amendments will be added,” he said.

The senators have not finalized the exact contents of the agriculture-workers proposal they plan to push, but said it would be a five-year pilot program. In the immigration bill, the plan would have allowed many immigrant workers to become temporary residents based on their past work experience, which in turn would open the door to gain permanent resident status by applying for green cards.
Harkin also voted against cloture on the "grand bargain" last month, so will he want to risk passage of the farm bill for AgJobs?