Senate defeats GOP budget point of order on immigration bill

“We say we’re for budget discipline, but we just bust the caps by calling it emergency spending ... but this isn’t emergency spending,” Vitter said on the floor. “We have to stop violating this rule if we’re going to get serious about the deficit and debt.”

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The Republicans who voted “yes” were Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.) — the four authors of the legislation — and Sens. Bob Corker (Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Jeff Chiesa (N.J.), Susan Collins (Maine), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Dean Heller (Nev.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), John Hoeven (N.D.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Lamar Alexander (Tenn.).

The Senate is expected to pass the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act by a bipartisan vote at the end of 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.

Later Wednesday, the Senate will also vote on the “border surge” amendment from Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.). Their amendment adds more than $30 billion to the price tag of the bill, making it $46 billion total over 10 years. The amendment requires the hiring of 20,000 more border patrol agents, the completion of 700 miles of Southern border fencing and the purchase of $4 billion of new border security technology before immigrants would be able to apply for a green card.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has said in the first 10 years, the bill will generate $197 billion, and in the decade after that nearly another $700 billion, but Republicans critics of the measure say those gains are to the Social Security Trust Fund and shouldn’t be used to pay for other projects because the money will have to be returned to the trust fund at some point.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said supporters of the bill are “double counting” the funds and that’s why the country is in such deep debt.

“Let’s stay with the budget,” Sessions said Wednesday. “Let’s require the bill’s sponsors to do what they’re suppose to do and should be able to do and that’s to produce a bill that pays for its costs.”

The Senate will also vote Wednesday on whether to end debate on the Senate Judiciary Committee's substitute amendment to S. 744, setting up final passage for Thursday night or Friday morning.

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