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Two senators exchange words over immigration debate

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Albany/HV: Two senators exchange words over immigration debate
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The Boston bombings once again threatened to overshadow the immigration debate, with a tense exchange between Senator Charles Schumer and a top Republican. Michael Scotto reports.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Senate is usually known for its decorum. But on Monday, a hearing on immigration reform turned heated after two Senators clashed over the bombings in Boston.

“I say particularly, those who are pointing to what happened, the terrible tragedy in Boston as a, I would say, excuse for doing a bill,” Senator Charles Schumer said.

Senator Charles Grassley said, “I never said that.”

Schumer replied, “I never said you did.”

Grassley retorted, “I never said that.”

Schumer stated, “I never said you did. I don't mean you, Mr. Grassley.”

Last week, Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley did suggest that the alleged bombers should play a role in the immigration reform debate.

Under the proposed legislation, the government would spend billions of dollars securing the border, put 11 million undocumented immigrants on a pathway to citizenship and overhaul the visa system. By all accounts, the two bombing suspects came here legally about a decade ago. One even recently became a U.S. citizen.

“Let no one be so cruel as to try to use the heinous acts of these two young men last week to derail the dreams and futures of millions of hard working people,” Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy said.

Grassley said, “I think we're taking advantage of an opportunity, when once in 25 years, we deal with immigration to make sure every base is covered.”

The Boston bombing is just one issue that could throw a wrench into the immigration debate. The other huge wildcard is citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Senator Ted Cruz, a Tea Party favorite who could sway other conservative lawmakers, said a path to citizenship could derail everything.

“In my view, any bill that insists upon that jeopardizes any likelihood of passing any immigration reform bill,” Cruz said.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is expected to testify on Tuesday. She was scheduled to appear last week, but had to cancel due to the bombings in Boston.

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