updated 9/24/2006 11:32:39 AM ET 2006-09-24T15:32:39

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Sunday said he wants a Senate vote soon on an immigration bill focusing primarily on border security, but acknowledged that quick passage is doubtful.

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Frist, R-Tenn., said he’s willing to push ahead with the bill favored by House Republicans, which is narrower than the version he and other senators favor. Even so, action may not be possible before the November elections, he said.

“If you’re going to address immigration reform, you have to first and foremost secure our borders,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “What I’ve done, and hopefully what we’ll be voting on the floor of the Senate this week, is take the common parts of the House bill and the common parts of the Senate bill.”

In December, the House passed legislation that concentrated on border security and enforcement of laws banning employment of undocumented workers. The Senate in May then passed a broader bill, generally endorsed by President Bush, that included provisions for a guest worker program and ways for the nation’s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants to work toward legal status and eventual citizenship.

There’s been no progress in efforts to reconcile the two bills.

With no prospects this year for passing broader immigration changes favored by the Senate, House GOP leaders said taking action to seal the border was a matter of urgency. But some lawmakers such as Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., have said he’s not sure immigration could be addressed “on a piecemeal basis.”

On Sunday, Frist said he would like to move forward with some kind of legislation as a first step if his opponents in Congress can get beyond election-year partisanship.

“I think the Democrats right now in this political season, they are obstructing everything,” he said.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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