Border Security Senate Vote Barometer for Immigration Bill’s Fate

BY Terence Burlij and Christina Bellantoni  June 24, 2013 at 8:34 AM EST

Republican Sens. John Hoeven of North Dakota and Bob Corker of Tennessee discuss their immigration agreement outside the Senate chamber on June 20 in Washington, DC. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

The Senate is scheduled to hold a pivotal test vote Monday afternoon on a package of increased border security provisions, with the outcome a barometer of how the comprehensive immigration reform plan will perform when it comes up for final passage later this week.

The border security agreement, reached last week by Republican Sens. John Hoeven of North Dakota and Bob Corker of Tennessee, was aimed at boosting support from conservatives skeptical the bipartisan Gang of Eight proposal did not go far enough in securing the border. The Hoeven-Corker amendment would require the hiring of 20,000 additional border patrol agents and the completion of 700 miles of fencing along the southern border at a cost of roughly $30 billion.

Supporters of the overhaul predicted Sunday that the Hoeven-Corker amendment would help them clear Monday’s procedural hurdle.

“The bill will pass,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I think we are on the verge of getting 70 votes. That is my goal. It’s always been my goal. We are very, very close to 70 votes.”

“We’re about at two-thirds of the Senate right now,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told CNN. “Our momentum is growing. So I believe we’ll be in the neighborhood of 70 votes by the time the vote occurs at the end of the week.”

Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul announced Sunday that he will not vote for the measure in its current form. “Without some Congressional authority and without border security first, I can’t support the final bill,” Paul said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Paul added that the additional border security elements contained in the Hoeven-Corker amendment were not sufficient. “We’ve thrown a lot of money at a lot of problems in our country. To me, what really tells me that they’re serious would be letting Congress vote on whether the border’s secure.”


And Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who has been an outspoken critic of the Gang of Eight plan from the start, continued to blast the legislation and the process for moving it forward in a Monday column posted on the conservative Red State website:

“Given only a weekend to review the language, we will now vote on whether to end a debate that never really began,” Cruz wrote. “To be clear — this is not a difficult vote. On process alone, we should all vote ‘no.’ This was by design — the President, Harry Reid and the Gang of 8 preferred all along to ram through a ‘deal,’ and not have a real debate – just like Obamacare.”

Even if the Senate bill receives upwards of 70 votes, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has pledged he will not bring a bill to the floor of his chamber that does not have the support of a majority of GOP lawmakers.

Democrats warned that Republicans could face a backlash from the public if they block the legislation from coming up for a vote.

“This has the potential of becoming the next major civil rights movement,” Schumer said. “I could envision in the late summer or early fall, if Boehner tries to bottle the bill up or put something in without a path to citizenship — if there’s no path to citizenship, there’s no bill. But if he puts something, if he tries to bottle it up or do things like that, I could see a million people on the mall in Washington.”

“I think they’re going to have to act whether they have a majority of Republicans or not,” he added.

A new Pew Research Center/USA Today poll released Sunday found that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S. who meet certain requirements should be allowed to stay in the country. Seventy-one percent responded they supported that approach, while 27 percent said the immigrants should not be allowed to stay.

The survey also revealed that 49 percent of Americans backed the idea of undocumented immigrants applying for legal status while border security provisions are being implemented. Forty-three percent of respondents said that immigrants should be able to get legal status only after effective control of the border has been achieved.

And the pressure continues from groups that want to see legislation reach President Barack Obama’s desk.

At the world premiere of “Documented” at AFI Silver Docs on Friday, journalist-turned-advocate Jose Antonio Vargas told the crowd he is hopeful about the prospects for passage. Vargas, who two years ago revealed in the New York Times Magazine that he is in the country illegally, said his documentary on immigration and the DREAM Act is “unfinished, because Congress is unfinished.”

“Our lives, all 11 million of us, are in limbo,” Vargas said Friday.

Advocates in the crowd also said they are optimistic about the prospects for the bill making it through Congress, even if they find it imperfect.

Maggie Haberman reports in Politico that the Chamber of Commerce is spending money on a new ad starring Gang of Eight member Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., backing the bill.

Mr. Obama will meet Monday with business leaders at the White House to promote passage of the bill and to talk through why he thinks immigration reform would boost the economy. The CEOs attending are affiliated with both political parties and represent a broad spectrum — from technology icon Steve Case of Revolution LLC to Ethan Allen President and CEO Farooq Kathwari and Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya. He is expected to laud the Congressional Budget Office estimate that suggests the measure would reduce the deficit, a message he also used in his weekly address.

Janet Hook reported Saturday in the Wall Street Journal about the deep divisions in Boehner’s Republican Conference, suggesting that the failure of the farm bill “provided fresh evidence this past week of how easy it will be for the GOP’s most conservative wing to shrug off even commanding support for any legislation emerging from the Senate.”

Hook wrote that “[i]t isn’t even clear that Mr. Boehner could win House passage of all the Judiciary Committee’s more narrowly focused bills, a leadership aide said. Some conservatives are set against any immigration bill passing the House, fearing it would give the Senate a vehicle to attach provisions they oppose.”

And the speaker won’t need to face that question until after the July Fourth recess. He plans to speak with his conference about the options for immigration reform on July 10.

Reid Wilson writes for the National Journal about the prospect of rowdy town hall meetings over the summer August recess deflating the bill’s chances:

Several Republican aides on Capitol Hill said they were conscious of the time crunch Congress faces. With just five legislative weeks left before the August recess, the Senate is only now getting around to voting on the full immigration reform package. Action in the House has been even slower. There is no announced timeline for immigration legislation; there isn’t even an agreement on whether the House should take up a comprehensive bill or a number of smaller measures in a piecemeal approach.

Two House leadership aides said they expect the House to act on immigration before the August recess. But, they said, it’s unlikely a conference committee, in which the House and Senate iron out differences between their respective bills, would be underway by the time Congress breaks for the summer.

On the NewsHour, Ray Suarez continued our “Inside Immigration Reform” discussion series Friday with a look at proposals requiring English proficiency to get citizenship. He spoke with Georgetown University’s Barbara Mujica and Max Sevillia of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

Watch the segment here or below:

A DOUBLE DOUBLEHEADER

Mark Shields and David Brooks do a little thing in our newsroom on Friday nights called the “Doubleheader,” chatting with Hari Sreenivasan about the Sport of Politics, and the Politics of Sport.

And it got a little wild Friday when the guys sat down for a live version that was twice as long. They took your questions, ranging from their favorite state for political travel to which one of them is taller.

Watch here or below:

And in their regular Friday night segment, Mark and David weighed in on Republican leadership, the farm bill’s failure and the president on the world stage.

Watch that segment here or below:

LINE ITEMS

  • The president will deliver a speech on efforts to battle climate change on Tuesday. He previewed his remarks in a weekend web video.

  • The Edward Snowden saga continued Monday when a plane landing in Havana did not, as believed, have the leaker of information about the government’s surveillance program on board.

  • Vice President Joe Biden paid a last-minute visit to the Bay State Saturday, to give a boost to Democratic Senate nominee Rep. Ed Markey ahead of his Tuesday faceoff against Republican Gabriel Gomez. The Boston Globe lays out the stakes for the race.

  • The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe highlights the divide on immigration by telling the story of two Republican senators named Jeff. That would be Flake, of Arizona, and Sessions, of Alabama.

  • The Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Mascaro writes that lawmakers selling immigration legislation are increasingly using personal stories of people back home to stress how important the measure is for changing the status quo.

  • Christina talked about immigration from 30 Rock Sunday on “Up with Steve Kornacki.” Rep. Hakim Jeffries, D-N.Y., argued in this clip that people seeking a stronger border are “moving the goal posts” when it comes to the numbers of agents and length of the fence.

  • Roll Call’s Emily Cahn finds House Republicans working hard to recruit female candidates for the 2014 midterms.

  • First Lady Michelle Obama and the couple’s daughters Malia and Sasha will be along for the president’s trip to Africa Wednesday. Mrs. Obama will meet with youth and highlight “the power and importance of education,” according to the White House. The Hill looks at her “high-profile” role.

  • Continuing to keep the intrigue alive, Hillary Clinton said in Toronto Thursday night she hopes to see a female president in her lifetime.

  • Democratic consultant and former Clinton aide Mo Elleithee continues the conversation about his daughter and a woman’s chances to become president in an essay for Salon.

  • ABC News has the story of a Mormon mom who fought for California’s Proposition 8 to ban same-sex marriage, and the emotional turnaround she faced when her teenage son came out.

  • The Supreme Court now has 11 pending decisions. The NewsHour homepage will host SCOTUSblog’s live coverage beginning at 10 a.m. We’re watching a few major topics still outstanding: affirmative action in higher education, the Voting Rights Act section 5, and Prop 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which both involve same-sex marriage.

  • Don’t miss the updates to our Oral History Hotline page, which collects audio memories from when the Voting Rights Act passed. And for more in-depth Supreme Court coverage of the 2012-2013 term, visit our page.

  • When data journalism is supremely awesome: Yahoo News has a terrific interactive charting all the ways White House Press Secretary Jay Carney dodges questions, avoids answers or refuses to speculate.

  • Historic trinkets, neckties and suffrage-era mementos: Ari Shapiro details for NPR what the president gives as gifts to his closest aides.

  • Remember Journolist? Gawker posts the entire archive of the group that got a bunch of press folks in hot water for expressing political opinions.

  • Bad News Babes co-captain Abby Livingston writes for Heard on the Hill that Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., is the “Rudy” of the members’ softball team.

  • Relatedly, Roll Call put together a Fantasy Softball project for Wednesday’s game. And yes, Christina finds that terrifying.

NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshow

  • Jason Kane reports on how “Austin Musicians Don’t Let Their Babies Grow Up Without Health Care.”

Watch:

  • Just how super was Sunday’s Supermoon?

  • Ray Suarez spoke with author and journalist Jeff Chu about his experience reconciling being Christian and gay, a journey he recounts in his book “Does Jesus Really Love Me?”

  • Margaret Warner spoke with Matthew Cowley, Sao Paulo bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal, about why a million protestors in Brazil hit the streets. See photos of the protests from Vinicius Ferreira of Youth Journalism International.

  • Watch Jeffrey Brown’s extended conversation with writer Colum McCann and see him read an excerpt from “TransAtlantic” on ArtBeat.

  • People who have less money tend to act more charitably, Paul Solman explains in his second Making Sen$e segment on the psychology of wealth. Feelings of being well-off, however, can be manipulated.

TOP TWEETS

Simone Pathe contributed to this report.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

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