By Ramsey Cox
The Senate will vote Monday on ending debate on a border security deal supporters hope will bring more GOP support to the immigration bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced the vote Friday as he filed a cloture motion on a border security amendment to the bill.
Reid praised Corker and Hoeven's work on the legislation, describing them as a "Gang of Two," a wordplay on the "Gang of Eight" that crafted the underlying bill.
After thanking Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who Reid described as the "quarterback" for the bill, he said: "I want to also thank Sens. Bob Corker and John Hoeven. … That Gang of Two worked with the Gang of Eight to come up with the product we have."
Reid hopes to finish work on the Senate immigration bill by the end of next week and said a vote to end debate on the underlying bill will be held Thursday.
“We will vote on cloture on the bill Thursday," Reid said. "I repeat, we will finish this bill before recess.”
The vote to end debate on Leahy’s amendment will happen at 5:30 p.m. Monday.
The Senate bill 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. In the underlying bill, an E-Verify system and entry-exit system at air and sea ports must be in place before anyone is given a green card.
The amendment from Hoeven and Corker would require the construction of 700 miles of southern border fencing, the purchase of more than $3 billion in new technology for border security and the hiring of 20,000 more border patrol agents. The Department of Homeland Security would have 10 years to implement those requirements.
Supporters of the Senate bill hope to win at least 70 votes in support of their legislation, which they believe would build pressure on the House to take up the measure.
House Republicans have criticized the Senate bill, with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) expressing opposition to comprehensive immigration reform. Boehner has also vowed only to bring immigration legislation to the floor that is backed by a majority of his conference.
The House Judiciary Committee has been working on piecemeal immigration bills, but Schumer on Friday said no final bill would make it to President Obama's desk without a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally.
"No bill on immigration reform will be signed into law by the president without a path to citizenship," Schumer said. "It is essential for any immigration reform. So those who think they can get pieces of this bill without comprehensive immigration reform are sadly, sadly mistaken."
Reid said he hopes to hold some amendment votes next week.
The Senate has so far considered only 12 amendments to the bill, most of which were GOP amendments aimed at ensuring border security measures occurred before any immigrants were granted legal status.
“We’re going to continue to try to work to allow people to offer amendments,” Reid said. “Most of them won’t pass, but that’s not the point. … It would be nice if people elected to this body were able to offer some amendments, but we haven’t been able to over come the objection of a small minority of senators.”
Corker said Friday that border security would be so strong under the language being added to the bill that only those looking for any excuse to oppose it could do so.
"We need to secure the border first," Hoeven said. "This is about securing the border first and doing comprehensive immigration reform and doing it right."
Schumer also said the addition of the Corker-Hoeven amendment will mean no one can argue the bill isn't tough enough on border security.
He argued those still opposing the bill are doing so because they do not want to provide any path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
"There is only one other objection. It’s usually unstated and that is the earned path to citizenship," Schumer said. "If portions of this bill were voted on separately, most of our colleagues who oppose the bill would vote for them. … Then why do some still not support it? They simply don’t believe in a path to citizenship."