Senate will reconvene to pass border security
The Senate will convene briefly on Thursday for a rare
session during its August recess to pass a $600 million border security bill.
Just days into its five-week break, a spokesman for Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid ‘s (D-Nev.) office said the chamber would go back to
work at 10 a.m. Thursday to pass the border-security bill as well as a
resolution honoring the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).
Stevens died Monday night in a plane crash in southwest
Alaska. Once the Senate adjourns, it is not scheduled to reconvene until Sept.
Because the bill is expected to pass unanimously, only two
senators are expected to attend — Democrats Charles Schumer of New York and Ben
Cardin of Maryland. Under Senate rules, only two members must be present if
legislation is unanimously consented to by all others.
Reid spokesman Jim Manley said he has received assurances
that no Republicans plan to block the bill or the resolution, and aides to GOP
Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said there are also unaware of any objections.
“The bill will pass by unanimous consent — again,” said
McConnell spokesman Don Stewart in a statement.
Stewart also took a shot at Schumer and other Senate
Democrats for forcing the chamber to return from recess. Stewart said Schumer
had made a legislative error by attaching his immigration bill to House
legislation that included revenue raisers. Such legislation must be approved by
the House first under the Constitution.
“As you may know, he attached his bill to the wrong type of
House legislation causing a “blue slip” problem with the House,” Stewart
said. “The House fixed it, and so now the Senate has to convene for a few
minutes to pass it — again.”
The Senate session follows a special session of the House on
Tuesday, when lawmakers were recalled to Washington to pass a state aid bill.
The House on Tuesday also quickly passed the $600 million bill after a voice
vote and limited debate, setting up a final vote in the Senate before it can go
to President Obama.
Schumer’s office confirmed his and Cardin’s appearance. The
New York lawmaker has been an outspoken advocate for immigration reform and
released a statement that said the bill will reduce the federal deficit by $48
“Further securing our borders is an urgent priority that
shouldn’t wait,” Schumer said. “This bill will confront the challenges at the
border head-on without raising the deficit and will set the stage for passing
more comprehensive immigration reform.”
Manley said the Senate would meet “for the sole purpose of receiving and passing by consent
H.R. 6080, border security, and a resolution on the death of Senator Stevens.
This will be an extremely short session as we will just be doing these two
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.
Immigration has been a simmering topic on the national stage
this year, with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signing a controversial crack-down
law that has brought a court challenge by the Obama administration. The Senate
tried and failed to pass immigration reform twice, in 2006 and 2007, and there
is little appetite to raise this issue again this year with elections looming
In recent days, Republican focus has turned to grass-roots
interest in repealing a provision of the 14th Amendment that automatically
grants birthright citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants. Prominent
GOP senators such as McConnell, Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and GOP Whip Jon Kyl
(Ariz.) have all called for hearings on the issue.
This story was posted at 12:48 p.m. and updated at 1:55 p.m.