In pivotal immigration vote, Senate advances historic overhaul by big margin -
Published Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at 12:00 am / Updated at 7:04 am
In pivotal immigration vote, Senate advances historic overhaul by big margin

WASHINGTON — A historic overhaul of the country's immigration system appears headed for easy Senate approval after a lopsided Monday night vote in favor of advancing the measure.

Big margins on votes have become pretty rare in the current polarized Washington environment, but the tally was a bipartisan 67-27 to advance legislation that would create a 13-year pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States.

The measure also calls for billions of dollars to be spent on manpower and technology to secure the 2,000-mile border with Mexico, including a doubling of the Border Patrol with 20,000 new agents.

A final vote is expected later in the week.

Despite the broad support for the bill, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, was the only senator from Iowa or Nebraska to vote with the majority.

Monday night's vote was actually focused on a 1,200-page rewrite of the bill aimed at bolstering border security.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, voted against it, comparing many of the legislation's provisions to the now-banned practice of earmarking federal funds for pet projects.

Sens. Mike Johanns and Deb Fischer, both Nebraska Republicans, also voted against the proposal.

“I recognize our system is broken, but the solution begins with border security so we aren't back in this same spot a decade from now,” Johanns said. “Unfortunately, this amendment's promise of secure borders is not airtight.”

Fischer agreed.

“Rather than simply throwing taxpayer money at the problem with promises of dramatic improvements, we need a proposal that brings about verifiable, measurable results along the southern border,” she said.

Johanns and Fischer cited a laundry list of concerns with the proposal. For example, they both criticized the legislation for giving too much discretion to the Secretary of Homeland Security and raised the prospect of government entitlement programs delivering benefits to those in the country illegally.

Monday's vote came as President Barack Obama campaigned from the White House for the bill.

“Now is the time to do it,” Obama said at the White House before meeting with nine business executives who support a change in immigration laws. He added, “I hope that we can get the strongest possible vote out of the Senate so that we can then move to the House and get this done before the summer break” beginning in early August.

He said the measure would be good for the economy, for business and for workers who are “oftentimes exploited at low wages.”

Proponents hope that a show of overwhelming Senate support could create more pressure for House GOP leadership to bring the bill to the floor, but members adamantly opposed to the legislation are doing everything they can to kill it.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, has blasted the latest version of the Senate bill as “full-blown amnesty.”

He said the border security provisions would not be enforced by the administration.

“Registered provisional immigrant status is a form of legalization that allows illegal aliens to work, affords them a Social Security number and a passport, and allows them to legally bring in their relatives,” King said. “Even worse, the amendment adds additional amnesty provisions not in the underlying bill that allow future visa over-stayers to become legal residents — amnesty in perpetuity.”

This report includes material from the Associated Press

Contact the writer: Joseph Morton    |  

Joe is The World-Herald's Washington, D.C., bureau, covering national political developments that matter most to Midlanders.

Primary battle between Battiato, Morrissey may be only race
UNMC appoints new dean for the college of dentistry
Jeff Corwin hopes to build connection with nature at Nebraska Science Festival
Metro transit recommends streetcar, rapid-transit bus line for Omaha
6-mile stretch of Highway 75 is the road not taken
After decades looking in, Republican Dan Frei seeks chance to take action
Cause of Omaha power outage along Regency Parkway unclear
Ben Sasse, Shane Osborn try to pin label of D.C. insider on each other
Curious about government salaries? Look no further
Easter Sunday temperatures climb into 80s in Omaha area
Omaha police investigate two nonfatal shootings
City Council to vote on adding Bluffs pedestrian safety lights
Sole big donor to Beau McCoy says he expects nothing in return
Convicted killer Nikko Jenkins might await his sentence in prison
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
Midlands runners ready for Boston Marathon
Families from area shelters treated to meal at Old Chicago
Firefighters battle brush fire near Fontenelle Forest
Sioux City riverboat casino prepares to close, still hoping to be saved
Omaha high schoolers to help canvass for Heartland 2050
Mizzou alumni aim to attract veterinary students to Henry Doorly Zoo
Grant ensures that Sioux City can start building children's museum
Party looks to 'nudge' women into public office in Iowa
For birthday, Brownell-Talbot student opts to give, not get
Two taken to hospital after fire at Benson home
< >
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Dickson’s Week in Review, April 13-19
On Twitter some guy tweeted that the spring game isn’t taken as seriously as a regular-season contest. What was your first clue? When the head coach entered waving a cat aloft?
Kelly: A California university president returns to her Nebraska roots on Ivy Day
The main speaker at today's Ivy Day celebration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a college president who grew up roping calves and earned her Ph.D. at the prestigious Oxford University in England.
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Meridian Med Spa
50% Off Botox®, Botox® Bridal Party, Fillers and Peels
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »