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News Wrap: Senate Votes to Begin Formal Debate on Immigration Reform Bill

June 11, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
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KWAME HOLMAN: The immigration reform bill in the U.S. Senate cleared a key hurdle today. It garnered well more than the 60 votes needed to begin formal debate. But possible final passage still is many days off.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-Ky.: At the risk of stating the obvious, the bill has serious flaws.

SEN. HARRY REID, D-Nev.: There are 11 million reasons to have commonsense immigration reform.

KWAME HOLMAN: That is how things in the Senate began, an indicator of the bumpy road the bill still has to travel, despite taking its first steps today.

The Senate measure would boost border security, create a 13-year path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants currently in the country illegally, and allow tens of thousands of new workers into the country.

New York Democrat Chuck Schumer is part of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” who crafted the bill. He said today the status quo is unacceptable.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, D-N.Y.: Our bill is based on one simple principle, that the American people will accept and embrace commonsense solutions to future legal immigration and to the 11 million now living here in the shadows, if and only if they are convinced that there will not be future waves of illegal immigration.

KWAME HOLMAN: Another Gang of Eight member, Republican Marco Rubio of Florida, said helping improve the work force is key.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-Fla.: But issue number one, the fundamental reason why we have to do immigration reform, is because we do not have a 21st century immigration system. Our immigration system today is largely built on the idea that if you have a relative living here, it is easier for you to come than if you have a special skill or talent that you are offering to the country to contribute.

KWAME HOLMAN: At the White House, President Obama urged lawmakers to get the job done soon.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Now’s the time to get it done. There’s no good reason to play procedural games or engage in obstruction just to block the best chance we have had in years to address this problem in a way that is fair to middle-class families, to business owners, to legal immigrants.

KWAME HOLMAN: The president gave Congress a timeline of the end of summer, but the House speaker, Republican John Boehner, told ABC News a later date is more likely.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-Ohio: I think, by the end of the year, we could have a bill.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC News: that passes the House, passes the Senate, signed by the president?

JOHN BOEHNER: No question.

KWAME HOLMAN: It’s unclear when a House version of the immigration bill will come to a vote, but the Senate’s majority leader, Democrat Harry Reid, said he aims to have his chamber’s bill passed by July 4.

The Lower House of Parliament in Russia voted overwhelmingly today for a bill that targets gays. The vote was 436-0 for regulations against what the bill calls “the propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.” It directly bans discussing homosexuality with children. Police detained more than two dozen gay rights demonstrators outside the State Duma in Moscow after they were attacked by hundreds in an anti-gay crowd. The measure still requires approval of the Upper House of Parliament.

In Turkey, authorities demanded an end to 10 days of anti-government protests, and riot police targeted crowds in central Istanbul with water cannon and tear gas. The trouble came in spasms throughout the day, and flared again after nightfall.

We have a report from Inigo Gilmore of Independent Television News.

INIGO GILMORE, Independent Television News: Police move in to Taksim Square en masse. The gloves have well and truly come off. A group of protesters try to block their path. They raise their hands, imploring the police to go no further, all to no avail.

Suddenly, the tear gas comes pouring in, and it keeps on coming. We watched as the police water cannons relentlessly went to work, clearly intent on cleansing the square of protesters. To many, it was a severe provocation. While there were calls for restraint, some fought with the police. Rocks were hurled, Molotov cocktails too.

Some protesters later claimed that those throwing petrol bombs were police provocateurs, insisting they believe in peaceful protests. Many had encouraged Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to engage in dialogue with these protesters, but to them he’s now shown his true colors. The patience of Turkey’s top man has snapped.

As the operation in Taksim Square was in full swing, the Turkish prime minister, bullish and defiant, received a rapturous welcome from his loyal supporters in Parliament.

PRIME MINISTER RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turkey: To those who want to continue with these incidents, I say, it’s over. Be warned, we will not tolerate it anymore.

INIGO GILMORE: Defiance, too, from the protesters in Gezi Park, determined to stand their ground. As they marched around, they chanted, “This is just the beginning of the struggle.” I came across Selen Gulen, a music teacher.

SELEN GULEN, Teacher: He has been always tough. You know, that is role. That is what he has been playing. He’s role-playing, definitely. That is a big role in this whole game, I guess. But this was pretty ugly.

INIGO GILMORE: As clashes continue this evening, this is the battle which could decide not only the fate of a park, but the future direction of this country. With secular middle-class protesters lining up against a conservative Islamist prime minister and his followers, both sides feel they represent the true soul of Turkey.

KWAME HOLMAN: The clashes continued well after dark, as tens of thousands of protesters returned to the park, and police attacked with more tear gas. The governor of Istanbul announced the police operations will continue around the clock.

At least 17 people died in Afghanistan today, when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the supreme court in Kabul. It was the second attack in as many days in the Afghan capital, and wounded nearly 40 people. Taliban militants said they carried out the bombing to eliminate judges who work for the Western-backed government.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing that all chimpanzees be listed endangers. That would include the roughly 2,000 chimps now in captivity in the U.S. Unlike those in the wild, they now are listed only as threatened. Changing their status would make it harder to use captive chimps in medical research or to sell them across state lines. A final decision is expected next year.

In economic news, Wall Street could not hold its ground today in the face of worries that central banks around the world aren’t doing more to boost growth. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 116 points to close at 15,122. The Nasdaq fell nearly 37 points to close under 3,437.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Judy.