[JURIST] The Secure Fence Act of 2006 [HR 6061 summary] providing for the construction of a 700-mile fence along the US-Mexico border is going up for a Senate floor vote as early as Wednesday after Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) [official website] filed a cloture motion [Senate backgrounder] earlier this week to break a potential filibuster [Senate backgrounder]. The bill designed to curb illegal immigration was approved [JURIST report] by the House of Representatives in September by a vote of 283-138 [roll call]. Sen. Frist said in a statement [press release] that "border security is the essential first step of any effort to enact immigration reform. Only when we have convinced the American people of our commitment to securing our borders will we be able reach a consensus on comprehensive immigration reform."
In December 2005, the House passed a broader immigration bill [JURIST report] which provided for a border fence as well as making illegal immigration a felony. The Senate passed a separate immigration reform bill [JURIST report] in May and approved $1.8 billion in defense spending for the construction of a fence. The bills appear stymied in conference and Congressional leaders have abandoned hope of getting anything but the most basic measures through before the November elections. AP has more.