ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) - Describing current immigration laws as "unacceptable," President George Bush urged senators on Saturday to support a bipartisan immigration bill that stalled two days earlier on the Senate floor.
"I understand the skepticism some members of Congress have regarding certain aspects of this legislation. Like any legislation, this bill is not perfect," Bush said in his taped weekly radio address, which aired while he was in Rome.
"Like many senators, I believe the bill will need to be further improved along the way before it becomes law."
Despite two weeks of heavy debate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pulled the bill from the Senate floor Thursday night, after it failed to garner the necessary votes to end debate and move toward a final vote.
Reid said the extended debate on immigration reform was getting in the way of other legislation, including an energy bill and a Democrat-sponsored motion of no confidence in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Several senators thought pulling the bill from the Senate floor was premature, and may have killed any chance of its success.
Reid gave up on this bill "too soon" and should have allowed the debate, with consideration of more amendments, to continue, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. "We could have finished the bill in a couple more days, in my judgment."
Reid insisted that the bill, unveiled three weeks ago, was not dead. He vowed to keep working to find a way to get it passed "as soon as we can."
The president addressed one of the immigration bill's more controversial aspects: a provision that sets out a path to legalization and eventual citizenship for 12 million illegal immigrants. Several Republican opponents have labeled this provision amnesty.
"Amnesty is forgiveness with no penalty for people who have broken our laws to get here. In contrast, this bill requires illegal workers to pay a fine, register with the government, undergo background checks, pay their back taxes and hold a steady job," Bush said. "In short, they will have to prove themselves worthy of this great land."
On Thursday, Reid appealed to the president to help persuade GOP members to support the measure.
"Where are the president's men? Where are the president's people helping us with these votes?" the Nevada senator said.
The bill's opponents also includes lawmakers on the other side of the aisle - Democrats who balk at the legislation's guest worker program, which they contend would drive down wages and create a permanent underclass.