Hopes of passage of an E3 visa bill to help legal Irish immigration are fading as the main Republican sponsor, Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass), seems to be unable to line up enough GOP support.
A leading Republican lobbyist has told IrishCentral that Brown lacks the clout within the Republican caucus to deliver, despite his very best efforts to do so.
“It is not Scott Brown’s fault, but he simply is not able to convince the old bulls in his own party that he needs this piece of legislation,” said the GOP lobbyist.
Fifty three Democrats have signed on to the bill put forward by Senator Charles Schumer which would grant 10,000 work visas a year to qualified Irish, similar to what Australia receives.
Brown has the support of a handful of GOP senators for his version of the same bill but needs far more to guarantee that the bill can pass.
Efforts to reach a settlement with Iowa Senator Charles Grassley, who has held up the bill, have not worked out.
Also Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to use his clout to get the bill through his caucus to date.
Irish activists are now considering another all out pitch at more senior Republicans to get them on board for the bill.
The time frame is considered relatively short for action on it before the election climate hots up.
The Irish government is also working all out to try and secure passage of the bill, believing it is the best that will be on offer for some time.
“It can be done if a few of the veteran senators can be persuaded,” said the GOP lobbyist. "That is how the Australians did it, they got then Senate Majority leader Bill Frist on side, to pass it. The Irish need that type of clout."
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has made clear that he will make every personal effort including phoning key senators to make the bill happen.