Reid: Senate could return to pass border-security bill this week

The Senate could pass legislation to bolster security on the U.S.-Mexico border as early as this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) office said Tuesday.

The House on Tuesday quickly passed the $600 million bill after a voice vote and limited debate, setting up a final vote in the Senate, which is in recess.

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Spokesman Jim Manley said "the hope is that we can pass the bill by [unanimous] consent by the end of the week."

"The question is whether Republicans want to try and make this an issue or whether they will allow us to get it done quickly," he said.

Should the Senate return to Washington for a vote, it would mark the second time a house of Congress returned from recess to act on legislation. The House reconvened this week to vote on a $26 billion state aid bill, along with the border-security measure.

If the Senate decides to pass the bill via unanimous consent, it would not require all 100 senators to return to the Capitol. According to Manley, just one senator from each party would have to be present to agree to pass the bill.

But consent would require that all members of the Republican conference agree to let it pass.

A GOP leadership aide said: "There is an effort to open the Senate just long enough to pass it by unanimous consent. But that means checking in with 100 senators in 50 states and some foreign countries."

The House bill is identical to a version already passed by unanimous consent in the Senate last week. But House leaders on Monday determined they would have to take the text of the Senate legislation and make it a House bill so the eventual law would not violate the originating clause of the Constitution, which requires revenue bills to originate in the House.

The bill funds more than 1,000 additional federal agents for the southern border, and allows the dispatching of unmanned aerial drones to help monitor border crossings.

This post was updated at 8:42 p.m.