Buoyed by a deal on border security, the Senate easily overcame immigration reform opponents, mustering more than the 60 votes needed to begin forcing an end to debate, setting the stage for approval of a sweeping immigration measure later this week.
The vote was 67-27, the first step along the road to final approval of a plan that would create a military type surge along the border with Mexico, and lead to a pathway to citizenship for millions of people now in the United States illegally.
All 27 votes against the plan came from Republicans, who kept up their attacks against the bill to the end.
“What is the rush?” asked Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on the Senate floor, as he argued that other Senators just wanted a “fig leaf” on border security.
“I have come to one conclusion,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said of immigration reform opponents, “they just won’t take ‘Yes’ for an answer.”
The Senate faces at least two more procedural hurdles where 60 votes will be needed to move forward on the bill, as a final vote on immigration reform legislation is expected by the end of the week.
Immigration reform seems likely to be one topic on the agenda on Tuesday afternoon when Congressional leaders of both parties meet with President Obama, who made clear again on Monday that he wants action.
“I hope that we can get the strongest possible vote out of the Senate so that we can then move to the House and get this done before the summer break,” the President said to business leaders in a White House meeting on immigration reform.
That vote of 67-27 would have had a few more “Yes” votes, but airline flight delays kept a handful of members from getting back to Washington, D.C. in time for the vote.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) missed the vote, but would have voted against an end to debate on the border security plan, while Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) were both “Yes” votes who weren’t able to get to the Senate floor.
Also not back for the vote were both Senators from Georgia, as Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson were delayed on flights back to Washington from two different places.
In a joint statement issued a few hours after the vote, both Chambliss and Isakson said they would have voted against the border security deal, meaning backers would have been stuck at 69 votes.
Here is a list of the “No” votes on the motion to invoke cloture (shut off debate) on the Corker-Hoeven border security deal, and the Senators who did not vote on that procedural motion.
GOP voting for:
- Udall (CO)