NPR : News

Filed Under:

Senate Approves Sweeping Immigration Overhaul, In Final Vote

The Senate approved a sweeping immigration bill Thursday, endorsing a bill that would put millions of immigrants who entered the United States illegally on a path to citizenship. The final vote tally on the bill was 68 in favor, with 32 opposed.

The bill also includes measures that would punish employers who take advantage of immigrant workers, as well as providing billions in spending to employ fences and high-tech tools to help secure the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

The legislation, Senate Bill 744, is widely seen as the product of the efforts of the "Gang of 8," a group that includes Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Bob Menendez, D-N.J.

During today's final vote, the chamber briefly erupted in laughter after Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., mistakenly answered the roll call vote with "Aye" — supporting the bill — before abruptly and loudly correcting his mistake by yelling "No!"

Around midday Thursday, the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the bill, titled the Titled the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, setting an end to debate on the legislation. It has grown to nearly 2,000 pages, although that includes many pages of material that was stricken during debate and compromise.

The bill has been seen as a main priority for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who insisted the chamber will act on it before the July 4 holiday. It is also a centerpiece of the Obama administration's legislative agenda.

"It's landmark legislation that will secure our borders and help 11 million people get right with the law," Reid said Thursday.

In examining support for the bill, the tally of the cloture vote earlier today was also 68-32, with 14 Republicans joining Democrats in voting for the motion. When the Senate approved an amendment on border security to the bill earlier this week, the vote was 67-27, with 15 Republicans voting in favor.

But it remains to be seen how the immigration bill will be greeted in the House of Representatives. And in the Senate, opponents of the bill have included Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., his deputy, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex., along with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

Several House Republicans are believed to be working on their own versions of the legislation.

"This bill may pass the Senate today, but not with my vote. And in its current form, it won't become law," McConnell said.

Other Republicans, such as Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, sought to build support for the bill among their party. Backers of the immigration overhaul have said they hoped to pass the legislation with unanimous support, to improve its chances in the House.

Speaking before the vote began, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., invoked the memory of late Sen. Ted Kennedy.

"I like to think that our old friend would be proud of what we're doing," Leahy said.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit


From Trembling Teacher To Seasoned Mentor: How Tim Gunn Made It Work

Gunn, the mentor to young designers on Project Runway, has been a teacher and educator for decades. But he spent his childhood "absolutely hating, hating, hating, hating school," he says.

How Do We Get To Love At 'First Bite'?

It's the season of food, and British food writer Bee Wilson has a book on how our food tastes are formed. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with her about her new book, "First Bite: How We Learn to Eat."

Osceola At The 50-Yard Line

The Seminole Tribe of Florida works with Florida State University to ensure it that its football team accurately presents Seminole traditions and imagery.

Payoffs For Prediction: Could Markets Help Identify Terrorism Risk?

In a terror prediction market, people would bet real money on the likelihood of attacks. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Stephen Carter about whether such a market could predict — and deter — attacks.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.