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CBO gives boost to immigration bill

Representative Trey Gowdy said the House’s bill offers an “increment by increment’’ approach to immigration.Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — About 8 million immigrants living unlawfully in the United States would gain legal status under sweeping legislation moving toward a vote in the Senate, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday, adding that the bill would push federal deficits lower in each of the next two decades.

In an assessment that drew cheers from the White House and other backers of the bill, Congress’ scorekeeping agency said the legislation would boost the overall economy. It put deficit reduction at $197 billion across a decade, and $700 billion in the following 10 years if the bill became law.

The White House issued a statement saying that the report was ‘‘more proof that bipartisan commonsense immigration reform will be good for economic growth and deficit reduction.’’ Other supporters said the estimate would add to the momentum behind a measure that toughens border security at the same time it holds out the hope of citizenship to millions of people.

The assessment came as the pace of activity increased in Congress on an issue that President Obama has placed at the top of his domestic agenda.


Challenged by protesters chanting ‘‘shame, shame,’’ House Republicans advanced legislation to crack down on immigrants living illegally in the United States, at the same time the Senate lurched ahead on a dramatically different approach offering the hope of citizenship to the same millions.

Representative Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, said the bill moving through the House Judiciary Committee was part of a ‘‘step by step, increment by increment’’ approach to immigration.

Representative Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, predicted there would be ‘‘millions of American citizens taking to the street’’ in protest if Republicans pressed ahead with the bill. The measure permits state and local authorities to enforce federal immigration laws and requires mandatory detention for any illegal immigrant who is convicted of drunk driving.


Despite the protests, approval by the committee was a foregone conclusion. The panel’s chairman, Represetative Robert Goodlatte of Virginia, said future bills would require companies to make sure their employees are living in the United States legally, create a program for foreign farm workers who labor in the United States, and enhance the ability of firms to hire highly skilled workers from overseas.

Those steps and more are already rolled into one sweeping measure in the Senate, a bipartisan bill that Obama supports.

The CBO said in its report and accompanying economic analysis that the legislation would raise economic activity in each of the next two decades as millions of workers join the legal workforce paying taxes. Not all the forecast was as favorable, though. CBO said average wages would decline through 2025 as a result of the bill, and that unemployment would go up slightly.

Kerry taps Feingold to lead US peace efforts on Congo

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John F. Kerry announced Tuesday that he has chosen former senator Russ Feingold as the new US special representative for the Great Lakes region of Africa and the ongoing crisis in Congo.

Congo’s government and rebels, known as the M23, have been negotiating in Uganda since December under a regional bloc, but the talks have often been set back by accusations over who is responsible for rampant violence in Congo’s North Kivu province.

‘‘The suffering in the Great Lakes region of Africa and the ongoing crisis in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to trouble all of us greatly,’’ Kerry said. ‘‘We are convinced that we have to help the parties find a path to a lasting peace, to a permanent cessation of hostilities and to the disarmament and demobilization of M23, accountability for human rights abuses, and, finally, a breaking down of the barriers that are standing between humanitarian aid and the civilians who need it.’’


Feingold, a Democrat from Wisconsin, chaired the Africa subcommittee when Kerry was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

McCaskill will support PAC that wants Clinton to run

WASHINGTON — Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, said she is supporting a super political action committee encouraging Hillary Rodham Clinton to run for president in 2016.

McCaskill is the first sitting member of Congress to endorse the group, called Ready for Hillary. The organization does not have official ties to the former secretary of state but it’s trying to lay the foundation for another Clinton campaign.

McCaskill was an early supporter of Barack Obama when he was running for president in 2008. She says it’s important for supporters of Clinton to start early and build a ‘‘grassroots army from the ground up’’ to help Clinton if she decides to run for president.