Immigration reform passes key Senate test in 67-27 vote on border measure

The Senate voted 67-27 Monday to advance a border security amendment to bipartisan immigration legislation, building momentum for a final vote later this week. 

Fifteen of the “yes” votes were Republicans, suggesting supporters could hit the 70-vote threshold they hope to reach in the final vote. It is thought a big, bipartisan vote could put pressure in the GOP-held House, where immigration reform faces dimmer prospects. 

The Republicans who voted “yes” were Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainRedistricting reform key to achieving the bipartisanship Americans claim to want Kelly takes under-the-radar approach in Arizona Senate race Voting rights, Trump's Big Lie, and Republicans' problem with minorities MORE (Ariz.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamKyrsten Sinema's courage, Washington hypocrisy and the politics of rage Hillicon Valley: Amazon's Alabama union fight — take two McConnell will run for another term as leader despite Trump's attacks MORE (S.C.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioI'm furious about Democrats taking the blame — it's time to fight back The Hill's 12:30 Report: Djokovic may not compete in French Open over vaccine requirement Florida looms large in Republican 2024 primary MORE (Fla.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeCruz to get Nord Stream 2 vote as part of deal on Biden nominees Democrats threaten to play hardball over Cruz's blockade Rubio vows to slow-walk Biden's China, Spain ambassador nominees MORE (Ariz.) — the four authors of the legislation — and Sens. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerRepublicans, ideology, and demise of the state and local tax deduction Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force MORE (Tenn.), Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats return to disappointment on immigration Authorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate MORE (Tenn.), Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteBiden's FDA nominee advances through key Senate committee The 10 races that will decide the Senate majority Manchin, Sanders will oppose Biden FDA nominee Califf MORE (N.H.), Jeff Chiesa (N.J.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsI'm furious about Democrats taking the blame — it's time to fight back 'All or nothing' won't bolster American democracy: Reform the filibuster and Electoral Count Act Voting rights, Trump's Big Lie, and Republicans' problem with minorities MORE (Maine), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchMeet Washington's most ineffective senator: Joe Manchin Lobbying world Congress, stop holding 'Dreamers' hostage MORE (Utah), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerSeven most vulnerable governors facing reelection in 2022 Nevada becomes early Senate battleground Nevada governor Sisolak injured in car accident, released from hospital MORE (Nev.), Mark KirkMark Steven KirkBiden's relationship with 'Joe-Joe' Manchin hits the rocks Let's fix America's accounting problem — starting with Build Back Better Duckworth announces reelection bid MORE (Ill.), John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenSenate Republicans call on Biden to lift vaccine mandate for truckers crossing Canadian border Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Native solar startups see business as activism Religious institutions say infrastructure funds will help model sustainability MORE (N.D.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSchumer prepares for Senate floor showdown with Manchin, Sinema ​​Democrats make voting rights push ahead of Senate consideration Clyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' MORE (Alaska) and Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerBiden huddles with group of senators on Ukraine-Russia tensions Overnight Defense & National Security — Texas hostage situation rattles nation Senators to meet with Ukraine president to reaffirm US support MORE (Miss.). 

Two Democrats, Sens. Mark UdallMark Emery Udall11 former Democratic senators call for 'meaningful reform to Senate rules' Kennedy apologizes for calling Haaland a 'whack job' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Haaland courts moderates during tense confirmation hearing | GOP's Westerman looks to take on Democrats on climate change | White House urges passage of House public lands package MORE (Colo.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownDemocrats see good chance of Garland prosecuting Trump On the Money — Student borrowers stare down rising prices Biden selects Sarah Bloom Raskin, two others for Fed board MORE (Ohio), missed the vote. If they’d been present, supporters would have won 69 votes on Monday. 

Proponents could reach more than 70 votes if they agree to further concessions, or if some Republican senators who missed Monday’s action vote “yes” on final passage. 


Sens. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonSchumer makes plea for voting bill, filibuster reform in rare Friday session Jan. 6 brings Democrats, Cheneys together — with GOP mostly absent Pelosi leads moment of silence for Jan. 6 with no Republicans except Cheneys MORE (Ga.) and Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissFormer Georgia Sen. Max Cleland dies at 79 Effective and profitable climate solutions are within the nation's farms and forests Live coverage: Georgia Senate runoffs MORE (Ga.) were absent Monday and are seen as swing votes. Chambliss and Isakson were early supporters of immigration reform legislation in 2007, and Chambliss is retiring at the end of this Congress. 

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats make final plea for voting rights ahead of filibuster showdown Mellman: Voting rights or the filibuster?  Budowsky: To Dems: Run against the do-nothing GOP, Senate MORE (Ky.) and Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanBiden huddles with group of senators on Ukraine-Russia tensions Overnight Defense & National Security — Texas hostage situation rattles nation Senators to meet with Ukraine president to reaffirm US support MORE (Ohio) were among the notable Republican “no” votes, though it is possible Portman could vote “yes” in the final vote. Portman wants to speed up the implementation timeline for the employer verification program, which mandates that employers check the immigration status of hires. 

The amendment advanced Monday would boost security spending by $30 billion, and was intended to address persistent GOP concerns about a porous U.S.-Mexico border. 

Crafted by Corker and Hoeven, it authorizes increasing the number of border patrol agents by 20,000 and constructing 700 miles of fencing. 

It adds $38 billion in spending for security measures to the $8 billion previously included in the base bill. At a minimum, it requires the implementation of $4.5 billion worth of technology and equipment to achieve full surveillance of the border. 

McCain, the chief Republican sponsor of the broader bill who helped negotiate the deal with Corker and Hoeven, said it would ensure a 90 percent apprehension rate of illegal entrants along the Southern border. 

“The head of the border patrol has said unequivocally to me that if you get this technological equipment in, that he is confident that we will have 90 percent effective control of the border and 100 percent situational awareness,” he said. That argument failed to convince Mc

Connell, who said the additional spending would not guarantee anything. 

“From the outset of this debate, I have been clear about the fact that in order for a reform bill to succeed, we would have to be able to prove to our constituents that the border would finally be secured. If we can’t guarantee that, anything else we do won’t be worth much.” 

Negotiators included the language hammered out with Corker and Hoeven in an amendment adding up to nearly 1,200 pages — prompting an outcry from conservative opponents. 

Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsPress: For Trump endorsement: The more sordid, the better Those predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold MORE (R-Ala.), an outspoken critic, grumbled that many of his colleagues did not have enough time to read the legislation. 

“This is exactly what happened with ObamaCare,” he said on the Senate floor. “The majority rushed through a complex bill so there would be no time to understand what’s in it.” 

Corker argued his new language spans only 119 pages and that the remaining 1,100 pages comprises the original bill, which has been available for review since May. 

Corker said “five tangible triggers” in his proposal — which must be achieved in 10 years — would take power out of the hands of the Department of Homeland Security to waive border security provisions. 

“If you think border security is not OK under the status quo, vote for this amendment,” Corker said. “If you want to give full control to [Homeland Security Secretary] Janet Napolitano, don’t vote for this amendment.” 

Negotiators included language to cement the support of wavering Democrats, as well. Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Schumer tees up doomed election reform vote Schumer prepares for Senate floor showdown with Manchin, Sinema White House to make 400 million N95 masks available for free MORE (Vt.), a liberal independent who caucuses with Democrats, secured $1.5 billion over two years for a youth jobs program. 

Sen. Mark BegichMark Peter Begich11 former Democratic senators call for 'meaningful reform to Senate rules' Harry Reid, political pugilist and longtime Senate majority leader, dies Alaska Senate race sees cash surge in final stretch MORE (D-Alaska), who faces a tough reelection race next year, persuaded negotiators to include language to help the Alaskan seafood industry maintain a reliable pool of seasonal labor. 

But not all Democrats were thrilled about the changes. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyFormer US attorney considering Senate run in Vermont as Republican The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sen. Kaine, drivers stranded in I-95 backup Senate delays vote as DC hit by snowstorm MORE (D-Vt.) criticized the amendment for suspending federal contracting regulations for the border security spending. 

“I am sure there are federal contracting firms high-fiving at the prospect of all of the spending demanded by some of our friends on the other side in this amendment,” Leahy said on the Senate floor. 

Republicans worry the Corker-Hoeven agreement represents the last chance to make significant changes to the legislation before a vote to end debate and move to final passage on Thursday. 

Fourteen Republican senators wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Connected Commerce Council - Biden faces reporters as his agenda teeters Biden hits one-year mark in dire straits 'All or nothing' won't bolster American democracy: Reform the filibuster and Electoral Count Act MORE (D-Nev.) on Monday protesting the “deeply disturbing” fast-tracking of the 1,000-plus-page immigration bill. 

A spokesman for Reid accused the GOP lawmakers of using the floor proceedings as an excuse to oppose the substance of the legislation. 

“This letter is nothing more than a transparent attempt to suppress the strong bipartisan support for immigration reform,” said Adam Jentleson, 

Reid’s spokesman. 

Reid plans to hold a vote to end debate on the legislation on Thursday. A final vote could take place on Thursday or Friday.

— Published at 6:32 p.m. and last updated at 8:29 p.m.