(July 12) Backers of long-sought legislation that would reform the agricultural guest-worker program and allow for earned legalization for undocumented workers employed on U.S. farms and ranches were looking for a vehicle to speed it through Congress the week of July 5.

Known as the Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits and Security Act, or AgJobs bill, the legislation had garnered 63 co-sponsors in the U.S. Senate, according to Sid Smith, spokesman for Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho.

Craig is an original sponsor of the bill, and Smith said the Idaho Republican was hoping to offer the amendment to class action reform legislation under debate in the Senate.

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However, one Democratic Congressional aide said Senate majority leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., angered many of his colleagues on July 7 by effectively prohibiting irrelevant amendments to the class action legislation, which is called the Class Action Fairness Act.

In basic terms, the aide said Frist indicated he is willing to risk torpedoing the class action legislation rather than allow amendments being added to the bill.

That could raise the ire of the business community, which badly wants to see the class action legislation passed.

However, Smith said July 8 that Frist’s attempt to limit amendments on the class action legislation was likely to hold.

He said Craig and Frist were discussing other possible legislative vehicles that AgJobs could be attached to.

Craig is definitely committed to bringing AgJobs to a vote this year, he said.

Smith said Craig believes the bill has the best chance of passing if it is offered as an amendment rather than a solitary bill, considering the shortened time frame before the August recess.