The US Senate has blocked a major immigration reform bill that was strongly backed by President Bush and could have given legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants.
In a crucial test vote onThursday, a compromise immigration bill fell 14 votes short of the 60 votes needed in the 100-member Senate to advance towards a final vote. Reflecting a deep lack of support from within Mr. Bush's own party, only 12 Republican senators voted for the bill.
Reacting to the vote, President Bush said Congress' failure to act on immigration is a disappointment.
Today's vote is likely to be the last on such a bill before Mr. Bush leaves office in 2009. Before the vote today, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid had vowed to pull the bill from consideration if it did not pass.
The immigration reform bill was a compromise package carefully crafted by a bipartisan group of senators and members of the Bush administration that would have created a path to legal status for some of the nation's estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants. It also included a temporary guest worker program, as well as tougher border security measures.
Some Republicans said the bill grants amnesty to illegal immigrants, while some Democrats said it does not do enough to keep illegal immigrant families together.
Mr. Bush has made immigration reform a key part of his domestic agenda, and had been personally involved in efforts to win backing for the bill.
A grass-roots campaign by various groups opposing the bill resulted in a flood of phone calls to lawmakers calling for the defeat of the measure.