Reid told reporters Thursday the immigration bill may be "over with."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, threatened to pull the long-sought immigration bill off the floor if a key procedural motion to limit debate on the bill – which is to be voted on Thursday night - is defeated.
"The bill’s over with. The bill's gone. I mean what else can I do?" he asked reporters. "Should we spend more time on this so we don't get to debate gas prices, so we don’t have to chance to vote on whether or not Alberto Gonzales should stay on as attorney general?"
Reid's warning may have been part political tactic. He’s sending a message to Republican senators, who early Thursday voted as a group to defeat a similar motion to limit debate, that Thursday night’s vote might be their last chance to keep alive the immigration bill, components of which have polled favorably, that is President Bush’s top domestic priority.
Sen. Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, the number two Republican, held out hope a deal could be reached before Thursday night’s vote that would allow for a handful more amendments to satisfy Republicans but also let Reid know the debate will end soon and allow the Senate to move onto other matters.
But Lott said Reid hurt his cause with Republicans by scheduling the Gonzales no-confidence issue for the first vote after immigration. Lott complained the Gonzales legislation, “is irrelevant, non-binding and will do nothing but drive us into a pit of nastiness out here. What is the rush?”
- CNN's Dana Bash and Ted Barrett