In a bipartisan vote, the Senate on Thursday passed a sweeping, historic overhaul of the nation’s immigration system – the first attempt to tackle such reform in six years.
But the historic bill appears to face a procedural brick wall in the GOP-led House, with Republican leaders vowing instead to move forward on their own measures.
Fourteen Republicans joined with all Democrats to back the legislation, which would revamp the nation’s legal immigration system, send unprecedented resources to the nation’s southern border, and offer millions of undocumented immigrants a path to legal status and eventual citizenship.
The final vote was 68-32.
To mark the history of the occasion, Vice President Joe Biden presided over the vote and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid directed senators to vote from their seats in the chamber.
The bipartisan drafters of the legislation, which was first formally unveiled in April, came one by one to the Senate floor Thursday afternoon to make deeply personal appeals for the passage of a bill they described as a compassionate, economically sound measure necessary to maintain the American Dream central to the nation’s identity.
“Even with all our challenges, we remain the shining City on the Hill. We are still the hope of the world,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida conservative and Cuban-American whose support of the legislation was key to wooing Republican support. “Go to our factories and fields. Go to our kitchens and construction sites. Go to the cafeteria of this very Capitol. There, you will find that the miracle of America still lives.”
“Pass this bill and keep the American covenant alive,” urged Sen. Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat on the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” that first unveiled compromise legislation in April.
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