Senate votes 82-15 in first step to debate immigration reform

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 RubioRubio: Turkey attack 'directed' by ISIS Trump: Rivals who don't back me shouldn't be allowed to run for office GOP mega-donor: Trump would cause 'global depression' MORE (R-Fla.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamOvernight Defense: US blames ISIS for Turkey attack | Afghan visas in spending bill | Army rolls up its sleeves Senate panel passes bill that would create 4K visas for Afghans Trump: Rivals who don't back me shouldn't be allowed to run for office MORE (R-S.C.) and Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeGOP senator: Trump could lose Arizona McConnell quashes Senate effort on guns Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote MORE (R-Ariz.) — were joined by more than 20 other GOP senators in voting to advance the debate. Sen. John McCainJohn McCainBush World goes for Clinton, but will a former president? GOP senator: Trump could lose Arizona Senate panel passes bill that would create 4K visas for Afghans MORE (R-Ariz.) supports the measure, but missed the vote. That strong support is expected to dwindle if certain amendments aren't agreed to.

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"As an elected leader in my party, it’s my view that we at least need to try to improve a situation that, as far as I can tell, very few people believe is working well either for our own citizens, or for those around the world who aspire to become Americans," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellDems leery of Planned Parenthood cuts spark Senate scuffle Overnight Finance: Senate sends Puerto Rico bill to Obama | Treasury, lawmakers to meet on tax rules | Obama hits Trump on NAFTA | Fed approves most banks' capital plans Senate passes Puerto Rico debt relief bill MORE (R-Ky.) said ahead of the vote Tuesday. "I’ll vote to debate it and for the opportunity to amend it, but in the days ahead, there will need to be major changes to this bill if it’s going to become law."

McConnell and Sens. John CornynJohn CornynOvernight Finance: Trump threatens NAFTA withdrawal | Senate poised for crucial Puerto Rico vote | Ryan calls for UK trade deal | Senate Dems block Zika funding deal Senate faces critical vote on Puerto Rico McConnell tees up House Puerto Rico bill MORE (Texas), Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteSenator calls for pause in accepting Syrian refugees after Istanbul attack GOP Senate super-PAC reserves M in airtime Pollster: Clinton leads in 5 battlegrounds MORE (N.H.), Deb FischerDeb FischerSenate sends pipeline safety bill to Obama McConnell warns of Friday work over defense bill US commander in Afghanistan finishing troop plan this week MORE (Neb.), Rob PortmanRob PortmanOvernight Finance: Trump threatens NAFTA withdrawal | Senate poised for crucial Puerto Rico vote | Ryan calls for UK trade deal | Senate Dems block Zika funding deal Overnight Energy: Volkswagen reaches .7B settlement over emissions Senators rally for coal miner pension fix MORE (Ohio), John ThuneJohn ThuneFacebook offers set of 'Values' to reassure users of neutrality Overnight Tech: Groups grade Clinton tech agenda | Facebook activates safety check in Istanbul | Another holdup for location data bill Congress prepping short-term FAA bill MORE (S.D.), Orrin HatchOrrin HatchTreasury officials to meet with lawmakers on inversion rules A bipartisan bright spot we can’t afford to pass up: child welfare reform Medicare trust fund running out of money fast MORE (Utah), Jeff Chiesa (N.J.), Roger WickerRoger WickerMenendez rails against Puerto Rico bill for 4 hours on floor Rubio will run for reelection Lawmakers push first responder network on rural service MORE (Miss.), Thad CochranThad CochranOvernight Finance: Senate sends Puerto Rico bill to Obama | Treasury, lawmakers to meet on tax rules | Obama hits Trump on NAFTA | Fed approves most banks' capital plans Senate Appropriations speeds through spending bills Week ahead: Senators face unfinished defense work MORE (Miss.), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderBipartisan gun measure survives test vote Overnight Healthcare: GOP plan marks new phase in ObamaCare fight Stoddard: The great Trump rebellion MORE (Tenn.), John HoevenJohn HoevenDeath threats against senators remained on Twitter for 2 weeks Senate panel approves funding boost for TSA Overnight Energy: Senate Dems block energy, water bill a third time MORE (N.D.), Richard BurrRichard BurrHomeland Security Committee pushes encryption commission in new report Clinton endorses Warner-McCaul encryption commission Lobbying world MORE (N.C.), Rand PaulRand PaulTrump: Rivals who don't back me shouldn't be allowed to run for office Trump hires Rand Paul's former digital director: report Trump flexes new digital muscle MORE (Ky.), Susan CollinsSusan CollinsSenate panel approves 0M for international climate fund Don’t let Congress legislate science Democrats stage protest during brief House session MORE (Maine), Jerry MoranJerry MoranSenate panel approves lifting Cuba travel ban Boost in Afghan visas blocked in Senate Senate contradicts itself on Gitmo MORE (Kan.), Roy BluntRoy BluntOvernight Finance: Senate sends Puerto Rico bill to Obama | Treasury, lawmakers to meet on tax rules | Obama hits Trump on NAFTA | Fed approves most banks' capital plans Overnight Healthcare: Sanders, Clinton ally jockey for health gavel Overnight Tech: Facebook's changes worry publishers | First stage of spectrum auction ends | Clinton recruits from Silicon Valley MORE (Mo.), Dan CoatsDan CoatsBipartisan gun measure survives test vote Senate panel advances nominee who Democrats blasted on Social Security Lobbying World MORE (Ind.), Dean HellerDean HellerGun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA Long past time to fix evidence-sharing across borders Obama's great internet giveaway MORE (Nev.), Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonPollster: Clinton leads in 5 battlegrounds Juan Williams: GOP sounds the sirens over Trump Vulnerable Republican seeks edge on homeland security MORE (Wis.), Bob CorkerBob CorkerGOP senator: Something 'very, very good' can come from Brexit vote GOP senators: Brexit vote a wake-up call Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote 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 IsaksonSenate faces critical vote on Puerto Rico GOP senators: Obama bathroom guidance is 'not appropriate' Amateur theatrics: An insult to Africa 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 ReidDems leery of Planned Parenthood cuts spark Senate scuffle Overnight Finance: Senate sends Puerto Rico bill to Obama | Treasury, lawmakers to meet on tax rules | Obama hits Trump on NAFTA | Fed approves most banks' capital plans Senate passes Puerto Rico debt relief bill 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 hopes for boost from Brexit vote GOP senators: Brexit vote a wake-up call Sessions warns of 'radical' Clinton immigration policy MORE (R-Ala.), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyPollster: Clinton leads in 5 battlegrounds Overnight Tech: Judiciary leaders question internet transition plan | Clinton to talk tech policy | Snowden's robot | Trump's big digital push Dozens of senators push EPA for higher ethanol mandate 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 DurbinClinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream Reid backs House Puerto Rico bill McConnell pledges redo vote on Zika after break 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 SchumerFormer Gillibrand aide wins NY House primary Senate faces critical vote on Puerto Rico Juan Williams: GOP sounds the sirens over Trump MORE (D-N.Y.), Durbin, Robert MenendezRobert MenendezOvernight Finance: Trump threatens NAFTA withdrawal | Senate poised for crucial Puerto Rico vote | Ryan calls for UK trade deal | Senate Dems block Zika funding deal Menendez rails against Puerto Rico bill for 4 hours on floor Overnight Cybersecurity: Senate narrowly rejects expanding FBI surveillance powers MORE (D-N.J.) and Michael BennetMichael BennetCruz-backed candidate wins GOP primary in Colorado Colorado GOP Senate race to unseat Dem incumbent is wide open Ted Cruz chooses sides in Colorado Senate primary MORE (D-Colo.) are also part of the Gang of Eight.

This story was updated at 3:28 p.m.

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