Members of Congress are on a two-week break, with work on a controversial immigration reform bill still pending. Lawmakers are likely to feel pressure on the issue from the White House and immigration advocates during their holiday recess.
President Bush is using the airwaves to make his case for immigration reform. Meanwhile, pro-immigration demonstrators are making plans to take to the streets during the congressional break.
In his Saturday radio address, Mr. Bush accused Democrats of using parliamentary tactics to delay progress on a comprehensive reform bill in the Senate.
A large block of Senators announced a compromise Wednesday, but Friday the bill was stalled, and lawmakers headed home with the issue still pending.
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee says the compromise is not all he wanted. But Arlen Specter predicts Senators will return from their two-week recess ready to take up the issue again and complete work on the legislation.
He spoke on the Fox News Sunday television program:
"I think tempers will cool over the two week period," said Arlen Specter. "And also there are going to be some expressions by many people very unhappy with the Senate not passing a bill and very unhappy with the House bill."
The version of the immigration reform bill that passed the House of Representatives late last year is far more restrictive than proposed legislation in the Senate. The House only took up the issue of border security and enforcement, while the Senate proposals contain paths to legal status for many of the millions of undocumented workers in the United States.
House leaders have signaled a willingness to find common ground. But many House members remain strongly opposed to any move that they see as handing a reward to immigrants who entered the country illegally. Among them is Republican Peter King of New York. He too appeared on Fox News Sunday.
"... and I know the Senators do not want to call their bill amnesty," said Peter King. "But it is time to talk straight to the American people and no matter what you call it ultimately is amnesty."
President Bush has strongly rejected the notion that his proposed guest worker program would grant amnesty to illegal immigrants. He argues it will ease pressure on the border, and would not provide an automatic path to citizenship.