The Senate voted 82-15 on Tuesday to end debate on a motion to proceed to a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
Senators are expected to vote in an hour to proceed to the bill, which will launch a weeks-long floor debate on immigration reform.
Three of the four Republican members of the Gang of Eight — Sens. Marco RubioMarco RubioThe ignored question: What does the future Republican Party look like? Graham to roll out extension of Obama immigration program Trump and Cuba: A murky future MORE (R-Fla.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamSenators crafting bill to limit deportations under Trump Dem senator: Petraeus would have ‘real challenge’ on confirmation GOP senators: We’re open to Petraeus at State MORE (R-S.C.) and Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeSenators crafting bill to limit deportations under Trump Interest groups keep the political ads coming Overnight Healthcare: Cures bill sails through House | Walden frontrunner for Energy and Commerce gavel MORE (R-Ariz.) — were joined by more than 20 other GOP senators in voting to advance the debate. Sen. John McCainJohn McCainMcCain to support waiver for Mattis, Trump team says Senators crafting bill to limit deportations under Trump Trump picks Mattis for Defense secretary: report MORE (R-Ariz.) supports the measure, but missed the vote. That strong support is expected to dwindle if certain amendments aren't agreed to.
McConnell and Sens. John CornynJohn CornynVictims of Nazi Art theft need Congress to HEAR Overnight Cybersecurity: Last-ditch effort to stop expanded hacking powers fails GOP senators want to amend Saudi 9/11 bill MORE (Texas), Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteBattle brews over Trump’s foreign policy Battle for the Senate: Top of ticket dominates NH voters hold Ayotte accountable for gun control votes MORE (N.H.), Deb FischerDeb FischerTrump’s Cabinet picks raise hopes for infrastructure package GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election No. 3 GOP senator: I'll still vote for Trump MORE (Neb.), Rob PortmanRob PortmanGOP debates going big on tax reform Who is Tim Ryan? A closer look at Pelosi’s challenger Battle for the Senate: Top of ticket dominates MORE (Ohio), John ThuneJohn ThuneA political temper tantrum at the FCC Overnight Tech: Lawmakers look at US edge in artificial intelligence | Walden favored for Energy, Commerce gavel | Tech reaches out to Trump Trump’s Cabinet picks raise hopes for infrastructure package MORE (S.D.), Orrin HatchOrrin HatchMnuchin's former bank comes under scrutiny Trump’s economic team taking shape Huntsman considering run for Senate in 2018 MORE (Utah), Jeff Chiesa (N.J.), Roger WickerRoger WickerMarijuana backers worry over AG Sessions Gardner's chief of staff tapped for Senate GOP campaign director GOP braces for Trump’s T infrastructure push MORE (Miss.), Thad CochranThad CochranGOP senators voice misgivings about short-term spending bill Trump's wrong to pick Bannon or Sessions for anything Bottom Line MORE (Miss.), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderMcConnell tees up medical cures bill Speculation and starting points: accreditation, a new administration and a new Congress This week: Pelosi's test MORE (Tenn.), John HoevenJohn HoevenDem senator to meet with Trump Overnight Energy: Dakota pipeline standoff heats up ND senators tell pipeline protesters to vacate camp MORE (N.D.), Richard BurrRichard BurrDems pledge to fight Sessions nomination Battle for the Senate: Top of ticket dominates Shakeup on Senate Intel: Warner becomes top Dem MORE (N.C.), Rand PaulRand PaulThe ignored question: What does the future Republican Party look like? Rand Paul skeptical about Romney as secretary of State Trump should propose amnesty — for unpaid ObamaCare penalties MORE (Ky.), Susan CollinsSusan CollinsSenators crafting bill to limit deportations under Trump Cornyn: ‘Virtual certainty’ Sessions and Price will be confirmed Trump's wrong to pick Bannon or Sessions for anything MORE (Maine), Jerry MoranJerry MoranOvernight Tech: Bill protecting online reviews heads to Obama | New addition to FCC transition team | Record Cyber Monday Overnight Finance: Trump expected to pick Steven Mnuchin for Treasury | Budget chair up for grabs | Trump team gets deal on Carrier jobs Congress passes bill protecting online customer reviews MORE (Kan.), Roy BluntRoy BluntOvernight Defense: Trump reportedly picking Mattis for Defense chief Dem senator: Petraeus would have ‘real challenge’ on confirmation GOP senators: We’re open to Petraeus at State MORE (Mo.), Dan CoatsDan CoatsTrump narrows secretary of State field to four finalists 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map 10 Senate seats that could flip in 2018 MORE (Ind.), Dean HellerDean HellerGOP senator won't rule out 2018 run for Nevada governor A holiday surprise: Will Congress protect privacy? 10 Senate seats that could flip in 2018 MORE (Nev.), Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonThe Hill's 12:30 Report Passing US-Canada preclearance would improve security and economy Overnight Finance: Trump expected to pick Steven Mnuchin for Treasury | Budget chair up for grabs | Trump team gets deal on Carrier jobs MORE (Wis.), Bob CorkerBob CorkerTrump: 'Almost all' Cabinet picks coming next week Overnight Defense: Trump reportedly picking Mattis for Defense chief Scarborough: Trump considering Exxon CEO for secretary of State MORE (Tenn.), Mike JohannsMike JohannsTo buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington Republican senator vows to block nominees over ObamaCare co-ops Revisiting insurance regulatory reform in a post-crisis world MORE (Neb.), Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonGOP senators wary of nuking filibuster SENATE: Republicans defy odds to keep majority A banner year for U.S. leadership on aid effectiveness MORE (Ga.) and Saxby ChamblissSaxby ChamblissWyden hammers CIA chief over Senate spying Cruz is a liability Inside Paul Ryan’s brain trust MORE (Ga.) were the Republicans who voted to advance the bill.
The bipartisan group of eight senators, known as the Gang of Eight, introduced S. 744, which would create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country, toughen border security, create a guest worker program and boost high-skilled immigration.
“There are 11 million reasons to pass common-sense immigration reform that mends our broken system — 11 million stories of heartbreak and suffering that should motivate Congress to act,” Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidMcCain to support waiver for Mattis, Trump team says Reeling Dems look for new leader GOP senator won't rule out 2018 run for Nevada governor MORE (D-Nev.) said Tuesday. “The bipartisan proposal before the Senate takes important steps to strengthen border security. It also makes crucial improvements to our broken legal immigration system.”
Democrats have praised part of the bill that would grant citizenship to young people, known as Dreamers, who were brought to the country by their parents without legal documentation.
But some Republicans have complained that the legislation would provide amnesty over 10 years for the nearly 11 million residents in the country illegally before strengthening border enforcement.
The bill makes permanent legal residence contingent on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) having 100 percent situational awareness at every segment of the southern border and a 90 percent apprehension rate. But some GOP senators have suggested that the bill gives DHS too much say over whether the border is secure, leaving Congress powerless to stop the amnesty program if security measures aren’t met.
Sens. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsTrump's can-do Cabinet Civil rights groups: Sessions unfit for AG The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Ala.), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyDrug pricing debate going into hibernation GOP leaders host Trump's top deputies Key Republican wants details on Ohio State attacker MORE (R-Iowa) have said the bill is similar to the last immigration reform measure in 1986 because it “legalizes first and enforces later.”
“In other words the federal government has always said the right things to the American people, but it has never lived up to its promises,” Cornyn said Tuesday. “This is doable, but we need a leverage to compel the bureaucracy and Congress to get the result the American people want.”
Sessions added that because of the way the legislation is written, he believes Gang of Eight members aren’t really serious about border security.
Sens. Dick DurbinDick DurbinSenators crafting bill to limit deportations under Trump Warren pushes Dems to get tough with Trump Overnight Finance: Questions swirl around Trump's plan for his business | Treasury pick promises major tax cut | White House downplays Carrier deal MORE (D-Ill.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) argued that wasn’t true, pointing out that the bill authorizes more funding for border security and fencing.
“I know it’s hard to do, but I refuse to accept the idea that the most power country in the world — the country that put a man on the moon — is incapable of securing our border,” Rubio said.
Democratic Sens. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerOvernight Finance: Trump takes victory lap at Carrier plant | House passes 'too big to fail' revamp | Trump econ team takes shape Anti-Defamation League: Ellison's past remarks about Israel 'disqualifying' Dems press Trump to keep Obama overtime rule MORE (D-N.Y.), Durbin, Robert MenendezRobert MenendezThe right person for State Department is Rudy Giuliani Warren, Menendez question shakeup at Wells Fargo Democrats press Wells Fargo CEO for more answers on scandal MORE (D-N.J.) and Michael BennetMichael BennetSpeculation and starting points: accreditation, a new administration and a new Congress The untold stories of the 2016 battle for the Senate Colorado single-payer healthcare measure loses MORE (D-Colo.) are also part of the Gang of Eight.
This story was updated at 3:28 p.m.