Saturday, November 20, 2004

Visa requirements still in place - thanks, Senator Byrd 

An update on one of my current pet issues: waving the US visa requirements for Polish visitors, in line with the treatment currently accorded to the nationals of 27 other countries, including France and Germany. Senator Rick Santorum, co-sponsor of the bill, reports:
"I am pleased that every Republican Senator supported this legislation. However, I am disappointed that we could not unanimously pass this legislation today because of Democratic obstruction. I worked hard with Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) to gain the support of all but one of our colleagues.

"ItÂ’s important that we show our appreciation to our Polish friends for being a staunch twenty-first century ally to the United States and for the contributions they have made to the cultural and historical fabric of our country. This legislation will make it easier for friends and families of Polish Americans to travel to the United States."
Polish media reports (link in Polish) that the "all but one" Senator is Robert Byrd from West Virginia, who objected when Santorum and Mikulski attempted to pass the bill through the "voice vote", i.e. by acclamation and without debate.

Rick Santorum's spokesperson says the Senator is not giving up on the legislation, but at the very least it will now have to wait until the next year, as Congress is about to finish its current session.

Let's hope that this issue won't disappear into the "too hard" basket.


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