The United States Senate approved an immigration reform bill today. However, it has little to no chance of passing (or even getting a vote) in the Republican controlled House of Representatives.
The contentious bipartisan effort to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws achieved a decisive victory Thursday when the Senate approved legislation that would allow millions of illegal immigrants the chance to live legally in the United States and to eventually become U.S. citizens.
The 1,200-page bill, which now faces a stern test in the Republican-controlled House, carries a $50 billion price tag. It would double the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents along the southern border and require the construction of 700 miles of fencing there. It also would place new burdens on employers, who would be required to check the legal status of all job applicants using the government’s E-Verify system.
Senators approved the plan 68 to 32, capping more than six months of negotiations that began behind closed doors and concluded with almost a month of debate on the Senate floor. Fourteen Republicans voted with every member of the Senate Democratic caucus to approve the bill — an impressive bipartisan margin in a chamber that has become sharply partisan.
“Before the American people give up on the Congress, look at what we achieved today in a bipartisan fashion,” said Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), a key member of a group of Democrats and Republicans who wrote the bill.
But the path ahead is likely to be increasingly acrimonious because the bill is now in the hands of the House, where intense GOP opposition threatens to kill it outright.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday laid down stern conditions for what kind of immigration bill he would allow the House to vote on, and it was not the one that came of out the Senate.
Boehner said that any bill would need majority support among his GOP colleagues before it could get a vote in the House. “For any legislation, including a conference report, to pass the House, it’s going to have to be a bill that has the support of the majority of our members,” he said. Recent history suggests that assembling such a majority will be difficult to achieve.
The 14 Republican Senators who voted with the Democrats in favor of the bill were: Marco Rubio (Fla.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Jeffrey Chiesa (N.J.), Susan Collins (Maine), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Dean Heller (Nev.), John Hoeven (N.D.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), and John McCain (Ariz.).