GOP members of the Gang of Eight — Sens. John McCainJohn McCainA Cabinet position for Petraeus; disciplinary actions for Broadwell after affair Meet Trump’s ‘mad dog’ for the Pentagon Wrestling mogul McMahon could slam her way into Trump administration MORE (Ariz.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamA Cabinet position for Petraeus; disciplinary actions for Broadwell after affair Pentagon should have a civilian chief to give peace a chance Lawmakers eye early exit from Washington MORE (S.C.), 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 (Ariz.) and Marco RubioMarco RubioJuan Williams: McConnell won big by blocking Obama The ignored question: What does the future Republican Party look like? Graham to roll out extension of Obama immigration program MORE (Fla.) — voted against Lee's amendment, along with Republican Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiPassing US-Canada preclearance would improve security and economy Overnight Energy: Dakota pipeline standoff heats up Trump's wrong to pick Bannon or Sessions for anything MORE (Alaska) and 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).
“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 LeahyPassing US-Canada preclearance would improve security and economy GOP wants to move fast on Sessions Senate Dems pan talk of short-term spending bill 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 MerkleyDem senator to Trump: 'You have no mandate' GOP senators wary of nuking filibuster Dem senators charge: Trump not draining the swamp 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 ManchinTrump flirts with Dems for Cabinet Trump meets with Dem senator amid Cabinet speculation Overnight Energy: Walden wins Energy gavel | Trump looks at Dems to head Energy, Interior 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 HellerGovernments and businesses: Teaming up for taxpayers GOP senator won't rule out 2018 run for Nevada governor A holiday surprise: Will Congress protect privacy? 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 PaulGOP rep: Trump has 'extra-constitutional' view of presidency The ignored question: What does the future Republican Party look like? Rand Paul skeptical about Romney as secretary of State MORE (R-Ky.), essentially killing his border security amendment.