From Yom Kippur to Capitol Hill: Jewish Lawmakers Dash to Work

A last-minute scheduling change for the finaldrafting session of immigration reform legislation forced two Jewish members of Congress to dash to the airport as Yom Kippur concluded.

California Democrats Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Howard Berman hopped red- eye flights back to Washington in order to make a Tuesday morning conference committee meeting, where members of Congress put the final touches on the controversial immigration bill.

House Republican leaders changed the session from the afternoon to the morning, drawing fire from some Jewish members of the committee.

“That certainly showed a lack of consideration on their part,” Berman said through a spokeswoman.

Their dash proved to be in vain as GOP lawmakers, who set the rules for the committee, did not allow Democrats to offer any amendments to their proposal.

The measure, which passed the House on Wednesday by a vote of 305-123, has angered many Jewish groups for its ban on federal programs to legal immigrants and its imposition of new hurdles for people seeking asylum to enter the United States.

The measure also steps up the enforcement of laws requiring relatives to take more financial responsibility for new immigrant family members they are sponsoring.

Feinstein, who supports the bill’s efforts to combat illegal immigration, was the only Democrat to sign the conference committee’s report.

The Senate is expected to take up the measure later this week. Immigrant advocates plan to push for amendments to the bill that would soften the blow for legal immigrants.

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