The New York Times says Senate Republicans "formally put aside" the broad immigration overhaul supported by Bush "and decided instead to press ahead with narrower bills to require building 700 miles of fence on the southwestern border … The Senate voted, 94 to 0, to debate the measure on fencing and other border barriers at the cost of billions of dollars. But the fate of even that measure is unclear, because members of both parties have reservations, and [Senate Majority Leader Bill] Frist may need to block any amendments if he wants to deliver it to Mr. Bush before Congress adjourns next week."
At the same time, a bipartisan task force yesterday criticized the GOP Hill leaders' push to approve a US-Mexico border fence before recess, and before addressing other proposed immigration reforms, as a "piecemeal" approach.
Bob Novak devotes his column to John Bolton's still-stalled nomination as UN ambassador. The temporary focus, Novak says, is that Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R) is the one responsible for holding up Bolton's nomination. "But Bolton's two-year struggle to get confirmed can be directly traced to a determined Democratic senator" -- Chris Dodd -- "and the vengeful U.N. secretariat."
Democrats hold at least four press conferences on the Hill today: 1) to denounce "the middle-class squeeze" under Republicans and 2) to unveil their Hispanic agenda, 3) to rail against what they call the GOP "Do-Nothing" Congress, and 4) to call for a new direction on national security. Also today, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D) and two Democratic-leaning groups host a conference call to release a report on the so-called "donut hole," the gap in coverage for Medicare's prescription drug plan.