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Senate Passes Immigration Reform, Bill Moves To House

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Immigration reform now heads to the U.S. House.
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Immigration reform now heads to the U.S. House.

A bipartisan group of eight senators crafted the comprehensive immigration bill the old-fashioned way: in a conference room with their sleeves rolled up. Not so in the House where Republicans, like Virginia Rep. Randy Forbes, say the Senate's process isn't open enough.

"They have eight people that go in a room, smoke their cigarettes, talk and chat, and come out and tell the rest of the world what they're going to do," he says.

House Republican leaders are holding their own hearings and tackling immigration one issue at a time, starting with border security. Forbes says the House version of the bill promises to be properly vetted.

"One thing I can assure you is we will know what's in the bill before we pass it," he says. "We won't have to pass it to find out later. And so our bill will take a different tone than what the Senate's will do."

But some Democrats say the piece-meal approach is a thinly veiled attempt to kill the Senate compromise measure. Northern Virginia Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly says part of the difference is that senators have to appeal to voters across entire states.

"Here in the House it's the opposite," says Connolly. "Republicans look at a two-year time frame, they're in safe redistricted districts, where there is no pressure in many of these cases to do anything about immigration."

Lawmakers are off next week for the Fourth of July. When they return, all eyes will be watching to see if the House can muster enough votes to tackle immigration reform this year.

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