Two different versions of the Bridge amendment – either of which would eliminate retrogression for Schedule A workers – were offered in the Senate over the weekend. Both amendments could be debated this week, perhaps as early as today. If formally passed and attached to the base bill, either amendment would have to be acted on by the House of Representatives, likely through the Conference Committee. After Conference, if the amendment survives, the entire bill would have to be approved by President Bush. Still, the mere offering of the amendments is a significant step in the legislative process, and significantly raises the chances of ending the retrogression of Schedule A workers.
The first, SA 3404 to HR 3043, seeks to amend the forthcoming Labor Health and Human Services appropriations bill, by recapturing 61,000 unused visas for Schedule A workers and their derivative family members. SA 3404 is co-sponsored by long-time champions Sen. Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Hutchison (R-TX).
The second, SA 3442, is also offered as an amendment to HR 3403. SA 3442 is a much more comprehensive amendment that seeks to recapture visas for not just Schedule A workers and their derivative family members, but also for conventional EB workers.
The purpose of offering two amendments is to hedge the bets of the champions. We’ll know shortly if their strategy works. Debate on the two amendments could start as soon as today, so stay tuned to the blog and CSPAN2.