McConnell: ‘Bust up’ immigration bill

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Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellAdelson aides in talks to make pro-Trump super PAC McConnell bashes Reid’s ‘inappropriate’ rhetoric The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Ky.) says the Senate should break up comprehensive immigration reform legislation and vote on it piecemeal in the next Congress.

McConnell said the Senate should “bust up” the omnibus immigration reform measure crafted last year by the bipartisan Gang of Eight and vote on its components separately.

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He would vote first on legislation to strengthen border security.

“What I think we ought to do is bust it up, pass as much of it as we can, starting with border security, which is a way of reassuring the American people that we’re not going to have another calamity like we’ve had,” McConnell said at an event Tuesday sponsored by The Wall Street Journal CEO Council.

“I would bust it up if I were setting the agenda in the Senate, start with border security, H-1B visa expansion, H-2A ag worker provisions, E–Verify and some of the other things I think we can get pretty broad agreement on,” he said.

McConnell said he would allow a full debate on the Senate floor and give colleagues the opportunity to offer amendments.

But he declined to guarantee that Republicans would back controversial provisions that rank among the highest priorities for Democrats, such as granting illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship.

“I don’t know what the fate of the provision that Senate Democrats are interested in would be,” he said.

He said his plan would “put on the president’s desk whatever we can get to him that improves the legal immigration system and, particularly, strengthens the border, which we have not yet done.”

E-Verify is an electronic employment-verification system used by the federal government to make sure employees are U.S. citizens. Backers have suggested its use be expanded to the private sector.

The H1-B visa program allows employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty positions. Tech companies have been looking for changes to the program that would lead to more visas.

The H-2A program is specific to agricultural workers.