Immigration Reform 2013: Senate Ends Debate, Final Vote To Come

  @LauraMatt on June 27 2013 12:58 PM
Immigration Reform
Anais Arias-Aragon poses for pictures with her certificate after receiving proof of U.S. citizenship during a ceremony in San Francisco, Calif., on Jan. 30, 2013. President Barack Obama said in January that he believes it is possible to get an overhaul of the U.S. immigration system by the end of 2012 year if not the first half of 2013. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

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.

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