By a 68-32 vote, the U.S. Senate ended debate Thursday on the 2013 immigration reform bill, clearing the way for a final vote later in the day. Fourteen Republicans sided with Democrats to invoke the cloture motion, cutting off further discussions.
Just a few minutes before that, senators also voted 68-32 to adopt a final substitute amendment to the main bill, to which more than 100 changes have been made. With those numbers, Democrats surely have more than enough votes to pass the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill. The final vote on the main bill may fall just shy of the 70 votes the “Gang of Eight” has been trying to achieve in order to show the House of Representatives there is strong bipartisan support behind the measure.
Lawmakers will vote on the final bill around 4 p.m.
Under the wide-reaching reform bill, which is more than 1,000 pages, there will be a buildup of Border Patrol agents on the Mexican frontier. The measure will provide a 13-year pathway to citizenship for approximately 11 million people who are living in the country undocumented. An employee-verification system, or E-Verify, will be mandatory for all employers.
It’s been a good week for senators and advocates of immigration reform, as the various measures kept topping the 60-vote threshold necessary to overcome a filibuster threat. The so-called “border surge” bill passed the Senate on Monday, 67-27; two days later it was added to the main bill by 69-29. The new border security bill, drafted by Republicans John Hoeven of North Dakota and Bob Corker of Tennessee, broke up a gridlock that slowed down the process for days. It will put 20,000 more boots on the ground along the southern border, complete 700 miles of fencing and more – all before green cards are issued to people who are in the country illegally.