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The Brief: April 23, 2013

A fiery hearing on Monday exposed the long road immigration reform faces in Washington.

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The Big Conversation

A fiery hearing on Monday exposed the long road immigration reform faces in Washington.

Though the introduction last week of major bipartisan legislation marked a breakthrough in the push to overhaul the nation's immigration laws, a hearing on the bill Monday revealed new tensions in the debate.

As The New York Times reports, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee debated issues like protections for same-sex couples and whether the bill could be split into pieces that could be passed separately.

The feistiest exchange, however, centered on several Republicans' recent push to delay debate on the bill in light of the Boston Marathon bombings. Democrats have accused Republicans of using the tragedy to try to derail the bill.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., singled out "those who are pointing to what happened, the terrible tragedy in Boston as — I would say an excuse — for not doing a bill or to delaying it many months or years."

"I never said that!" Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, shot back.

Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who has repeatedly expressed concerns over the pathway to citizenship in the bill, cautioned lawmakers against passing sweeping legislation that contained divisive provisions. Rather, he said, the Senate should proceed with reform only on elements of the bill that draw "wide bipartisan agreement."

"I don’t think that there is any issue in this entire debate that is more divisive than a path to citizenship for those who are here illegally," he said. "In my view, any bill that insists upon that jeopardizes the likelihood of passing any immigration reform bill."

Hearings continue today, with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano set to testify.


•    Doctored Payday Lending Bill Passes Senate (The Texas Tribune): "A heavily amended bill to regulate short-term lenders passed the Senate on Monday night, but it faces an uphill battle in the House. As the amendments piled on, the measure's author, state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, began to treat them with a sense of resignation."

•    Perry: State oversight not to blame for West blast (The Associated Press): "Gov. Rick Perry said Monday that spending more state money on inspections would not have prevented the deadly explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. plant that was last investigated by Texas environmental regulators in 2006. Perry told The Associated Press that he remains comfortable with the state's level of oversight following last week's massive blast in the rural farming town of West that killed 14 people and injured 200. Federal and state investigators say they have yet to identify the cause of the explosion."

•    Senate OKs Electric Rebates From Fund to Assist Poor (The Texas Tribune): "All but 10 percent of a nearly $1 billion state fund intended to assist the poor with utility payments would be rebated to electric customers under a measure that preliminarily passed the Texas Senate on Monday."

•    Obama, in Dallas for Bush library visit, will raise at least $1 million for Democrats (The Dallas Morning News): "Democrats will scoop up $1 million or more during a presidential visit to Dallas built around opening the George W. Bush Library with the nation’s other living presidents. Party officials expect 60 guests for dinner with President Barack Obama on Wednesday at the Strait Lane home of party activist Naomi Aberly and her husband, hedge fund manager Larry Lebowitz."

Quote of the Day: "I'll leave it to the will of the body. I just want to go home and feed my cat." — State Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, during Senate floor debate on Monday as amendments were piled onto his payday lending bill


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