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Immigration bill revived in Senate

By the Associated Press
Published June 15, 2007


WASHINGTON - Senate leaders agreed Thursday night to revive stalled immigration legislation, capping a furious weeklong rescue attempt that drew President Bush's personal involvement.

Bush pledged support for a quick $4.4-billion aimed at "securing our borders and enforcing our laws at the work site."

"The leaders have agreed on a way forward, " said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

The measure, sidetracked a week ago, is expected to return to the Senate floor for additional debate as early as next week.

The legislation has generated intense controversy, particularly for provisions envisioning eventual citizenship for many of the estimated 12-million immigrants now in the country unlawfully. The bill also calls for greater border security and a crackdown on the hiring of illegal employees.

The decision to revive the measure does not necessarily portend passage in the Senate. Critics of the measure have denounced it as conferring amnesty on millions of lawbreakers, and it remains unclear how strenuously they will attempt to prevent its approval.

The decision to bring the bill back for more debate was made at a meeting involving Reid, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, and key supporters of the legislation.

McConnell left the closed-door meeting without speaking with reporters.

But several officials said the decision had been made to make one more stab at passing the measure, which is Bush's top domestic priority.

Gonzales meeting focus of investigation

WASHINGTON - A Justice Department investigation into the firings of U.S. attorneys is looking at whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales inappropriately discussed the ousters in a meeting his former White House liaison called "uncomfortable."

The two Justice officials leading the inquiry confirmed, in a letter released Thursday by the Senate Judiciary Committee, that they were examining the March meeting between Gonzales and former aide Monica M. Goodling.

The inquiry's expanded focus was revealed as President Bush signed into law a measure preventing the Justice Department from installing U.S. attorneys without Senate or judicial review. The law fixes a tweak to the USA Patriot Act that the Justice Department made last year, which touched off the firestorm over the prosecutors.

Also Thursday

VETERANS CARE: The Senate Armed Services Committee voted unanimously to expand brain screenings and counseling for wounded veterans of the Iraq war and to reduce red tape for service members moving from Pentagon to Veterans Affairs care. The bill also would boost disability pay and provide more counseling for family members of tens of thousands of U.S. service members wounded in combat.

ENERGY: Senate Democrats, eager for a vote on energy legislation, ran into staunch Republican resistance to requiring that utilities use more wind, solar and other renewable sources to produce electricity. The proposal would require power companies to increase use of wind turbines, solar panels, biomass, geothermal energy or other renewable sources to produce at least 15 percent of their electricity by 2020. Only about 2.4 percent of the country's electricity is produced that way now.

[Last modified June 15, 2007, 02:00:05]

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