US Senate leaders have agreed to revive a controversial overhaul of US immigration laws after a fresh push by President George W. Bush to secure congressional support for the legislation.
The agreement to return the legislation to the Senate floor, possibly as early as next week, represented a victory for Mr Bush, who has invested much of his remaining political capital in getting the bill passed.
But it remained far from certain whether a series of proposed amendments to the bill would be sufficient to overcome the fierce opposition that derailed it in the Senate last week.
The legislation is designed to tighten border security while also offering a path to citizenship for the estimated 12m illegal immigrants already in the US.
With 18 months remaining before Mr Bush leaves office, immigration reform is viewed as the last significant part of his second-term agenda that stands a realistic chance of support from the Democratic-controlled Congress.
But the legislation has put Mr Bush at odds with much of his own party, with many Republicans and some Democrats opposed to anything that resembles an “amnesty” for illegal immigrants.
The legislation has sparked a battle of strength between its opponents and the increasingly powerful Hispanic lobby.
Mr Bush this week offered a concession by backing an amendment that would provide an immediate $4.4bn in funding for beefed-up border security.
The move followed a rare visit by the president to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to hear the views of Republican senators about the bill.
Harry Reid, senate majority leader, and Mitch McConnell, senate minority leader, agreed late on Thursday evening to give the Senate a second chance to consider the amended bill.
Mr Bush continued his campaign for the bill at a Hispanic prayer breakfast in Washington yesterday. “Each day our nation fails to act, the problem only grows worse,” said Mr Bush. “I will continue to work closely with members of both parties, to get past our differences, and pass a bill I can sign this year.”