WASHINGTON — Months of impassioned verbal sparring over immigration reform will culminate at 4 p.m. on Thursday, when the Senate will hold a vote on and likely pass the comprehensive immigration reform bill authored by the bipartisan Gang of Eight.
The final bill includes the compromise on border control that requires, among other things, more fencing along the border and a “surge” in the number of border patrol agents. The bill also allows for a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.
Shortly before noon, senators voted to file cloture on the bill, ending debate, and setting the stage for a vote later today. The vote was 68-32, and the full bill itself is expected to pass by the same margin.
Fourteen Republican Senators joined all the Democrats in voting for cloture: the four Republican members of the Gang of Eight — Sens. John McCain, Marco Rubio, Jeff Flake and Lindsey Graham; Sens. Bob Corker and John Hoeven, who authored the border security compromise; and Sens. Lamar Alexander, Kelly Ayotte, Lisa Murkowski, Jeff Chiesa, Susan Collins, Orrin Hatch Mark Kirk, and Dean Heller.
The 68-vote count leaves the Gang of Eight two votes shy of the 70 they were aiming for, in the hopes of passing the bill by a wide enough margin that the House would be pressured to move on the bill.
“I consider this an astounding success,” Graham told reporters after the cloture vote.
“Seventy was my goal, and we didn’t get there because of some procedural shenanigans,” he said, but, he added, “I’m so pleased; this is sending the bill out of the Senate with a lot of wind to its back.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner has said that the House will not take up the bill regardless of the number of votes it gets, but, will instead move its own immigration bill.
Giuseppe Macri contributed to this report.