The Senate voted 39-54 on Tuesday to reject an amendment to the immigration reform bill that would have required 350 miles of new fencing on the Southern border before the federal government could grant provisional legal status to immigrants.

The amendment from Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneLawmakers bicker over how to go after tax cheats GOP split on counteroffer to Biden's spending Senate GOP dismayed by vote to boot Cheney MORE (R-S.D.) would have prevented the government from granting provisional immigrant status until the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has built 350 miles of Southern border fencing. Another 350 miles of fencing would have to be constructed before those with provisional legal status could apply for a green card.

Thune's amendment needed 60 votes to pass. Republican Gang of Eight Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood causes headache for GOP in key S.C. race GOP governors move to cut unemployment benefits as debate rages over effects Trump critics push new direction for GOP MORE (S.C.), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainWill the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? Republicans have dumped Reagan for Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting MORE (Ariz.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe imminent crises facing Joe Biden Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signs daylight savings bill Study: Early unemployment cutoff would cost 16M people 0B MORE (Fla.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Republican reactions to Cheney's removal Flake: No greater offense than honesty in today's Republican Party Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP MORE (Ariz.) voted against the border fence amendment, while Democratic Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinThe imminent crises facing Joe Biden Bipartisanship has become a partisan weapon New York, New Jersey, California face long odds in scrapping SALT  MORE (W.Va.) and Mark PryorMark Lunsford PryorBottom line Everybody wants Joe Manchin Cotton glides to reelection in Arkansas MORE (Ark.) voted for it. Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiRomney: Capitol riot was 'an insurrection against the Constitution' Senate panel deadlocks over Biden pick to lead DOJ civil rights division Senate GOP dismayed by vote to boot Cheney MORE (R-Alaska) also voted against Thune's amendment.

Thune said his amendment was necessary because the current bill only makes “promises” of enforcement. He said building 350 miles of fence would be a “tangible trigger” to show the Senate is serious about border security before legalization.

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“Every time the Senate considers immigration reform promises of a more secure border are never upheld, and this bill continues to repeat those past mistakes,” Thune said ahead of the vote. “Some people have said this fence is ‘old-school’ ... but there is an infrastructure role to be played in this.”

The Senate is considering the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, and amendment work on the bill is expected to continue throughout June. Three more amendment votes were scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

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.

McCain, a Gang of Eight member, said his colleagues who are so concerned about border security should listen to those on the ground.

“I hope that my colleagues that are concerned about border security, that they will pay attention to what the head of border security is asking for,” McCain said, while urging a "no" vote on Thune’s amendment. “Fencing is important — surveillance is more important.”

Some Republicans have complained that the legislation would provide amnesty in 10 to 13 years for the nearly 11 million illegal residents before strengthening border enforcement. 

“Border security is what the people demand,” Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyLawmakers bicker over how to go after tax cheats On The Money: Biden says workers can't turn down job and get benefits | Treasury launches state and local aid | Businesses jump into vax push Grassley criticizes Biden's proposal to provide IRS with B MORE (R-Iowa) said Tuesday. “This bill has weak border security provisions.”

Supporters of the Gang of Eight bill say it includes an additional $6.5 billion for border enforcement measures, but most of the funding is for new technology such as drones, sensors, cameras and helicopters, as opposed to more fencing.

Sen. Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuCassidy wins reelection in Louisiana Bottom line A decade of making a difference: Senate Caucus on Foster Youth MORE (D-La.), who chairs the Appropriations subcommittee on Homeland Security, called Thune’s fence “dumb” during debate last week.

“I will vote against Sen. Thune’s amendment because I am not going to waste taxpayer money on a dumb fence, and that is what his fence would be,” Landrieu said. “We need to build a smart fence.”