In a speech to a construction industry group, President Bush has renewed his call to pass a wide-ranging immigration bill that stalled in the Senate, saying the measure “represents the best hope for lasting reform” In a move to increase the bill’s chances of passage, Bush said he supports adding funds to it for border security.
The bill hit a snag in the Senate June 7 when its supporters were unable to muster enough supports to cut off debate on the measure. In his June 14 speech at the Associated Builders & Contractors’ legislative conference in Washington, D.C., Bush said he was “disappointed” that the bill was withdrawn, but urged lawmakers to bring up the bill up again quickly.
To that end, he said he backs an amendment to add $4.4 billion to the bill for border security and worksite enforcement. Bush said, “This funding will come from the fines and penalties that we collect from those who have come to our country illegally.”
Besides emphasizing that the Senate measure would strengthen border security, the President said its temporary-worker provisions would help fill jobs in the U.S. by giving “people a legal way to come to do work Americans aren’t doing, on a temporary basis.”
Bush covered other domestic issues, and promised to veto House-passed legislation that would make it easier for unions to organize work sites, if the measure gets to his desk. Vice President Dick Cheney had issued a similar veto statement earlier this year. In the Senate, the AFL-CIO, which supports the bill, expects floor debate to begin on the measure on June 18.
In addition, Bush talked about the war in Iraq, saying, “The summer is going to be a critical period for our new strategy.” He added that “heavy fighting” and more American and Iraqi casualties can be expected. But he also said the U.S. “will complete the mission” in Iraq.