A landmark overhaul of the nation's immigration policy is likely to clear the Senate with strong bipartisan support by the end of the week following an initial text vote on Monday.
That 67-27 vote in favor of a Republican amendment to bolster border security shows momentum for the overall bill, with 15 Republicans siding with 52 Democrats -- two, including Colorado's Mark Udall, missed the vote Monday due to travel delays -- in support of the measure.
A handful of conservative Republicans objected, arguing that they haven't had ample time to review the legislation, which would allow the country's 11 million undocumented immigrants a 13-year path to citizenship after additional steps are taken to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.
The amendment added Monday directs the government to deploy an additional 20,000 border patrol agents, and to construct at least 700 miles of fencing along the border; additionally, an E-Verify system must be installed nationwide, and an electronic entry-exit system must be set up at air and sea port -- measures all aimed at securing additional Republican support.
Sponsors of the legislation, crafted by a bipartisan "Gang of Eight" led by Sens. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Chuck Schumer, D-NY, that also included Sen. Michael Bennet, D-CO, are hoping to get 70 senators to vote for the bill when it's brought up for final passage, possibly before the end of the week.
The idea: clearing the 70-vote threshold will make it harder for House Republicans to block or delay the bill.
Bennet issued a statement following the vote.
"Today we are one step closer to reaffirming two bedrock American principles: We are a nation that respects the rule of law and we are a nation of immigrants," he said.AlertMe