A typical procedural vote in the Senate could mean life or death for immigration overhaul.
The Senate today is expected to take up cloture in a simple vote on whether to continue debate on the "border surge" amendment proposed last week to rescue the faltering bill.
The amendment at stake: The "deal" sponsored by Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., beefing up border security by an extra $30 billion before any of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants can apply for citizenship.
The deal calls for the completion of 700 miles of fencing along the border, as well as the doubling of border patrol agents from 21,000 officers, which would mean one every 1,000 feet.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today on the Senate floor the immigration bill will pass with bipartisan support and called on House Speaker John Boehner to move quickly.
"The immigration bill before the Senate is another example of bipartisan legislation," Reid said. "The immigration bill will pass this chamber. … When the immigration bill passes, the speaker should bring it up for a vote in the House of Representatives quickly."
Reid, D-Nev., added that instead of Boehner's trying to "force legislation designed to please only the right wing," he should "do the right thing" and seek bipartisan support in votes.
The Corker-Hoeven amendment is designed by supporters to collect more than 70 votes in the Senate, a goal by the bipartisan group of authors of the original legislation. Conservative members of the House have said that tougher border measures are necessary for the Senate legislation to pass the House and, ultimately, make its way to the president.
Meanwhile, the public is just as split as Congress on whether full border control is needed before moving forward on legalization, according to a new poll by the Pew Research Center and USA Today.
Almost half (49 percent) said legalization could be allowed to happen while improvements were being made on the border, while 43 percent said it should happen only after the border is under control.
The Senate vote today could tie border security to legalization, making certain "triggers" such as the completion of the fence and 90 percent operational control before green cards would be issued to the millions of immigrants living in the shadows.
As the Senate reconvenes today, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a new TV and radio ad buy this morning that will last for two weeks. The seven-figure buy, part of a national campaign launched earlier this year, features conservative leaders, including "Gang of 8" members Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., expressing their support for comprehensive immigration overhaul and against the status quo, which they call "de facto amnesty."
Sen. Paul announced this weekend, however, that he will vote "no" on the Senate's bipartisan immigration bill because it does not include his amendment that would grant Congress the power to decide whether the nation's southern border is properly secure.
He had been previously open to supporting the legislation, even giving a speech in March embracing comprehensive immigration overhaul. But he said Sunday that he could not do so without his amendment, which failed to gain approval last week.
"Without some congressional authority and without border security first, I can't support the final bill," Paul said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday.
"We've thrown a lot of money at a lot of problems in our country," Paul said. "To me, what really tells me that they're serious would be letting Congress vote on whether the border's secure.
"If the people in the country want to be assured that we will not get another 10 million people to come here illegally over the next decade, they have to believe they get a vote through their Congress."
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- Immigration Issues