Senators Differ on Immigration Bill

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., is defending his support of the proposed immigration reform bill and challenging his opponents to put forth better solutions.

"Where are they? We know what they're against. What are they for?," he said of the bill's opponents in an exclusive "This Week" interview with George Stephanopoulos. "We have a terrible problem in this country that demands an answer."

"The reason we're going to pass this bill is because it's tough, fair and practical," Kennedy predicted.

He suggested weaknesses in the bill could be dealt with after the legislation passes.

"If we get this legislation -- and it's good legislation -- passed, then we can strengthen it, then we can improve it, then we can deal with some of these kinds of issues," he said.

When asked about waning support for the bill, particularly among Hispanic populations, Kennedy admitted, "There are groups that are opposed to this."

But the senator reiterated his belief "that doing nothing is not an alternative. The problem is going to grow worse."

In a separate interview, Stephanopoulos asked Sen. Jeff Session, R-Ala., whether Kennedy has the support to pass the bill.

"Well, you know, I think they felt they did ... but the support for it continues to erode," Sessions said. "A lot of key senators that were thought to be supportive have announced in recent days that they don't support it."

Sessions, who opposes the bill, said, "We need to go back, reevaluate it, and create something we can be proud of."

"We're going to use every effort to slow this process down and continue to hold up the bill, and read it to the American people, and show them that even though they may favor the ideals of the legislation, that the legislation won't get us there," Sessions said.

The senators also fielded questions on their relationships with President Bush and his position on the bipartisan bill.

"He's selling, and a lot of people believe in a vision of comprehensive reform, which I share," Sessions said of his disagreement with Bush over immigration. "My difficulty is [that] this bill will not achieve that vision."

In defense of his alliance with the president on the issue, Kennedy said, "I am the legislator. I want to get things done. And when the president is right in terms of immigration, I'm going to support that policy."

But Kennedy made clear that he has not always supported the president. The senator, calling the war in Iraq, "the major foreign policy disaster of our time," characterized his vote against the war as "the best vote I ever cast in my life in the United States Senate."

On a timetable for troop withdrawal, Kennedy said he believed the troop surge is not working and predicted, "The president's going to get a timetable again. And we're going to keep at it until we're successful."

Sessions explained why he is opposed to a politically-determined timetable.

"The sooner we can reduce our numbers the better," he said. "But if staying a little longer, delaying that movement could help make a decisive difference in success or failure, then I think we have to adjust."

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