Despite concerns by some members about the agricultural provisions, the full Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform legislation on Thursday by a vote of 68-32.
Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) took to the floor Wednesday evening to detail some of his concerns about the farm worker provisions in the bill and amendments that he wanted to see added.
The Georgia senator’s main issues center around requirements under the “Blue Card” program the new legislation would set up that he feels could add too many farm workers and ultimately make it easier for them to move out of agriculture and into other areas of employment.
Chambliss spent time detailing the amendments he would like to offer that would fix some of the concerns he has and said he was disappointed they would not be considered. “The ag portion of this bill is a critical piece of the legislation and I’m afraid it’s been overshadowed by some of the other issues,” he said. “Ultimately, I want what’s best for American agriculture.”
Listen to or download – Senator Saxby Chambliss 6/26/13
Agricultural groups hailed passage of the Senate bill within minutes of the final vote.
“We’ve known for years that the status quo employment situation in dairy farming is not sustainable. Today, the Senate moved decisively past that admission, and voted to change our labor and immigration laws for the better,” said National Milk Producers Federation president and CEO Jerry Kozak “Rather than tinker with what wasn’t working, this new immigration measure builds something new and much better.”
“The key is to demonstrate to a majority of the House that action is needed. The bill the House will consider is going to be different than this Senate bill, but the critical thing is that a bill addressing the needs of agriculture must be passed by the House. Inaction is not an option,” Kozak said.
Speaker of the House John Boehner said in a press conference today, “The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes. We’re going to do our own bill, through regular order.” (Audio and video below) Boehner on Immigration Reform