Majority Leader Bill Frist, frustrated by the sluggish debate over immigration reform at the committee level, plans to introduce a bill that deals solely with border security as early as today.
Mr. Frist’s bill, according to aides on both sides of the aisle, does not include a guest-worker provision or a process for handling the 12 million illegal aliens already in the U.S., divisive topics that have stalled immigration legislation in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The bill would beef up security along the U.S.-Mexico border, provide funding for thousands more Border Patrol agents and build short sections of fencing in key traffic areas.
However, the bipartisan majority in the Senate that also supports some form of a guest-worker program could still try to put it in Mr. Frist’s bill.
The Tennessee Republican, who is widely thought to be seeking the Republican nomination for president, had promised conservatives that he would bring up an enforcement-only bill and begin debate on the topic on the Senate floor before the end of this month.
“Nobody in the country trusts us on this issue right now because we have not demonstrated the integrity to control our borders,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, during yesterday’s Judiciary meeting.