GOP members of the Gang of Eight — Sens. John McCainJohn McCainWhy the era of US global leadership is over McCain 'seriously considering' issue of military base closures Senate panel votes to confirm Tillerson MORE (Ariz.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamWH: Trump believes millions voted illegally Ryan: ‘No evidence’ of mass voter fraud as Trump claimed Graham to Trump: Stop alleging voter fraud MORE (S.C.), Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeThis week: Congressional Republicans prepare to huddle with Trump GOP eyes new push to break up California court Live coverage of Trump's inauguration MORE (Ariz.) and Marco RubioMarco RubioWhy the era of US global leadership is over The Memo: Searching for firm footing as Trump Era begins Overnight Energy: Senate panel clears Tillerson for State MORE (Fla.) — voted against Lee's amendment, along with Republican Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiCommittee to vote on Zinke, Perry nominations Tuesday Trump, GOP set to battle on spending cuts What we learned from Rick Perry's confirmation hearing MORE (Alaska) and Susan CollinsSusan CollinsOvernight Healthcare: Trump reinstates ban on US funds for overseas abortions GOP senators: Give states the option of keeping ObamaCare GOP senators to introduce ObamaCare replacement plan MORE (Maine).
“Congress must be able to vote on the border enforcement strategy,” Lee said ahead of the vote. “To cut Congress out cuts out the American people.”
Lee argued that a fast-track vote would allow the Senate to vote with a majority threshold on whether the Department of Homeland Security is keeping its promises before allowing immigrants to start the pathway to citizenship.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahySessions: No plan to recuse from DOJ Trump probes VA leaving navy veterans adrift in sea of Agent Orange Senate confirms first nominees of Trump era MORE (D-Vt.) urged his colleagues to oppose Lee's amendment because it would "delay" the pathway to citizenship.
The Senate is considering the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act. Amendment work on the bill is expected throughout the week.
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.
Republicans have argued that the Gang of Eight bill grants amnesty to 11 million immigrants in the country illegally before implementing border security measures, repeating the mistakes made in the last major immigration reform in 1986.
GOP senators have demanded that the bill include border security triggers in order for them to support the legislation.
Those supporting the bill say it appropriates an additional $6.5 billion for border enforcement measures.
The bill also makes permanent legal residence contingent on the Department of Homeland Security having 100 percent situational awareness at every segment of the Southern border and a 90 percent apprehension rate of those illegally crossing. But some Republicans have suggested that the bill gives the department too much say over whether the border is secure, leaving Congress powerless to stop the amnesty program if security measures aren’t met.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted on other amendments, all of which were held to a 60-vote threshold.
Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyTrump Cabinet pick: Obama inauguration had bigger crowd Dem asks Trump budget pick if he'll give 'alternative facts' Live coverage: Trump budget chief faces two Senate panels MORE’s (D-Ore.) amendment passed by voice vote. It increases requires state workforce agencies to certify that employers are actively recruiting Americans and that Americans are not qualified or available to fill the positions that the employer wants to fill with H-2B visas.
Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinDemocrats delay vote on Sessions nomination Cabinet picks boost 2018 Dems Democrats expected to delay Sessions vote MORE’s (D-W.Va.) amendment caps border security contractors' salaries at $230,700 a year, and was approved on a 72-26 vote.
Sen. Mark PryorMark PryorCotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Top Democrats are no advocates for DC statehood MORE’s (D-Ark.) amendment passed by voice vote. It establishes a program for U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hire veterans.
Finally, an amendment from Sen. Dean HellerDean HellerSenate panel approves slew of tech bills Live coverage: Trump's health pick has second hearing Mnuchin weathers stormy confirmation hearing MORE (R-Nev.) that would allow Nevada to participate in the Southern Border Security Commissions to make recommendation on how to best secure the border passed on a 89-9 vote.
Earlier Wednesday, the Senate voted 61-37 to table an amendment from Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulTrump's CIA chief clears Senate Overnight Defense: Trump nominates Air Force secretary | Senate clears CIA director | Details on first drone strike under Trump Dems blast Trump plans for deep spending cuts MORE (R-Ky.), essentially killing his border security amendment.