U.S. senators negotiating an immigration bill have reached agreement on wages for foreign farm laborers working in the United States and a limit on visas for such workers, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said on Thursday.
Feinstein, of California, refused to provide details on the agreement and added that there were some other issues related to farm workers still to be negotiated.
"We have an agreement on wages and the visa cap," Feinstein told Reuters. The deal followed a six-hour negotiating session on Wednesday, she said.
The farm worker portion of the bill is seen as the last major bit to be negotiated before Senate legislation is introduced in coming days.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday on the comprehensive immigration bill that a group of eight Democratic and Republican senators has been negotiating for months.
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While Feinstein is not a member of that group, she has been a lead negotiator on the farm worker portion of the bill, which is very important to California, the nation's largest agricultural producing state.
Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, a leading member of the group of eight senators negotiating the bill, told reporters that it was now "time to get it finished and introduced."
When asked when the bill would be unveiled, he said it would happen very soon.
Another Republican senator in the "gang of eight," Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said he had "never felt more optimistic" about an immigration bill moving forward in the Senate.
But he said, "You always worry that something this complicated and emotional won't make it through."
Graham added, "The key is keeping business and labor (unions) together on the guest worker program" that aims to accommodate immigrant workers in agriculture and low-skilled construction workers, hotel maids and restaurant employees.
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