Thursday, June 27, 2013

Senate Passed CIR Bill

As expected Senate passed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) bill today. The vote was 68 - 32. All 52 democrats, 2 independents and 14 republicans voted yes. Thirty-two Republicans voted against the measure, including every single member of the leadership.

The Senate conducted a rare seated vote where senators have to sit at their desks and immediately declare their vote when the clerk calls their name.

The bill’s sponsors expanded the pool of Republican support earlier this week by amending the legislation to authorize 20,000 additional border patrol agents and the construction of 700 miles of fencing along the southern border. The amendment also ensured that immigrants could not claim Social Security benefits for the time they worked in the country illegally.

That fell short of the demands of a majority of Republicans who called for a guarantee of 100 percent situational awareness, or full monitoring, and a 90-percent apprehension rate of illegal entrants be achieved along the southern border before granting permanent legal status to millions of immigrants.

The legislation received another boost last week when the Congressional Budget Office estimated it would reduce the deficit by $197 billion over the next decade and by $700 billion between 2024 and 2033.

 “It is not a bill that reflects a commitment to a lawful system of immigration in the future,” he said on the Senate floor. “We will admit dramatically more people than we ever have in our country’s history at a time when unemployment is high and the Congressional Budget Office have told us that wages, average wages will go down for 12 years, that gross domestic product per capita will decline for 25-plus years.”

Some Republicans complained that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) shut down the amendment process. The Senate voted on only 10 of the more than 500 amendments filed to the bill.

The Gang of Eight fell just short of an ambitious, 70-vote mark set by some of its members, who had believed a broad bipartisan majority would force the Republican-led House move on its bill. Last-minute efforts to lure Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Rob Portman of Ohio failed — negotiators viewed Chambliss’s demands as too onerous and Portman’s request for a vote on toughening E-Verify provisions got snagged in the procedural rules of the Senate.

“If they don’t get 70, it’s a strategic defeat for them,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told shortly before the final vote. “Not because 68 is a whole lot different than 70, but because they were touting that they were going to get 70 votes and be able to shove it down the throats of the House of Representatives.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a member of the Gang of Eight, told reporters that the bill did not secure 70 votes because of “procedural shenanigans” that consumed the legislation’s final days in the chamber. Both parties scurried back and forth to strike a deal on amendments, but repeatedly faced objections.

“The bipartisan bill that passed today was a compromise,” Obama said. “By definition, nobody got everything they wanted. Not Democrats. Not Republicans. Not me. But the Senate bill is consistent with the key principles for commonsense reform that I – and many others – have repeatedly laid out.”

He called on the House to act and emphasized to supporters that the fight is not over. “Now is the time when opponents will try their hardest to pull this bipartisan effort apart so they can stop commonsense reform from becoming a reality. We cannot let that happen,” Obama said

But the conservative majority in the House is moving on a different track, passing separate pieces of legislation to revamp the nation’s immigration system. The House Judiciary Committee has cleared a handful of bills, but has yet to release any legislative solution for the estimated 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States.

“The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) reemphasized on Thursday. “We’re going to do our own bill, through regular order, and it’ll be legislation that reflects the will of our majority and the will of the American people.”

List of 14 republican Senators who supported the bill:

  1. Lindsey Graham (S.C.)
  2. John McCain (Ariz.)
  3. Marco Rubio (Fla.) 
  4. Jeff Flake (Ariz.)
  5. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) 
  6. Susan Collins (Maine)
  7. Sens. Bob Corker (Tenn.) 
  8. John Hoeven (N.D.) 
  9. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.)
  10. Orrin Hatch (Utah)
  11. Dean Heller (Nev.)
  12. Mark Kirk (Ill.)
  13. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)
  14. Jeffrey Chiesa (N.J.)

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