WASHINGTON — The Senate rejected a border security amendment proposed by Sen. John Cornyn Thursday, as senators touted bipartisan agreement on a different border security package sponsored by Republican Sens. John Hoeven and Bob Corker.
The Texas Republican’s amendment was tabled by a vote of 54-43. Because it was a vote to table (to put the amendment aside without debating its merits), that means the 53 aye votes were votes against Cornyn’s amendment, and the 43 nay votes were votes in favor of it.
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio broke with the Gang of Eight on the amendment, voting not to table it. All other members of the Gang of Eight voted to table it.
Speaking on the Senate floor before the vote to table his amendment, Cornyn said: “I’m looking forward to seeing the language that’s being proposed, the alternative language. But for now, I believe my amendment deserves the support of the members of this chamber.”
Republicans have expressed concerns over the border security provisions in the comprehensive immigration bill proposed by the Gang of Eight, and increasing that security is seen as necessary to getting the necessary Republican votes to pass the bill out of the Senate.
Cornyn’s proposal, called the RESULTS Act, would have increased the number of border patrol agents, and required 100 percent “situational awareness” of the border, and a 90 percent apprehension rate of people attempting to cross illegally before any illegal immigrant could apply for a green card.
Democrats called the amendment a “poison pill,” and though it initially had support from some Republicans, including Rubio, support has since shifted to the Corker-Hoeven amendment. Rubio on Tuesday called the Cornyn amendment a “good starting point.”
Speaking Thursday on Fox News, Rubio touted the Corker-Hoeven amendment, saying it would be “a dramatic improvement in border security,” and that he hoped that it would “allow, finally for this legislation to have the support it needs.” The amendment, according to the New York Times, would require a “surge” in the number of border patrol agents as well as construction of more fencing along the border.
Some proponents of the immigration bill are hoping to get 70 votes for the bill, a number that can only be reached with wider Republican support, to give it momentum and possibly broader appeal among the more conservative House Republican majority.
Speaker of the House John Boehner told reporters at a press conference Thursday that he had not yet seen the Corker-Hoeven bill and remained non-committal on whether the border security proposals therein would make the Senate bill more palatable.
“Regardless of what the Senate does, the House is going to work it’s will,” Boehner said.