Senate Floor Debate (Updated 6/26/13)

On 6/26/13, starting at 11:30 am, the full Senate took three votes to waive a budget point of order, to adopt the Leahy 1183 amendment, and to end debate on S.744 as reported out by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

  • The budget point of order was waived on 68-30 vote.
  • The Leahy 1183 amendment (as modified by the Corker-Hoeven amendment) passed on a 69-29 vote.
  • The cloture vote on S.744 SJC Substitute passed on a 67-31 vote.

On 6/24/13 at 5:30 pm, the full Senate voted to end debate on the Leahy 1183 amendment as modified by the Corker-Hoeven amendment (AILA Doc. No. 13062165).

This cloture vote, while technically on an amendment that includes highly problematic border reforms, will likely be the decisive vote on the Senate immigration bill. In addition, the Congressional Budget Office released a new score of the bill based on the amendment.

  • The amendment passed on a 67-27 vote.

Here a few highlights from debate on the vote to end debate:

2:20 pm: Senator Corker (R-TN): This amendment strengthens the border security aspects of the bill, and all Republicans, all Senators, who care about border security should vote for this bill. Governor Brewer of Arizona told a national audience that she thinks this amendment is a victory for her state. 2:15 pm: Senator Leahy (D-VT): This is not the bill that I would have written, but I will support this amendment today because I believe it is the best compromise to get the underlying bill passed.

2:24 pm Senator Lee (R-UT): We're about to vote to end debate, a debate that never really began, on an amendment that is 1200 pages that we've only had over the weekend. This is reminiscent of Obamacare. Unfortunately, it seems there are some Republicans willing to go along with the Democrats in passing of the bill. Only 9 amendments have been debated.

On 6/19/13, the Senate continued debating and voting on amendments to S.744. Here is the recap of the six amendments voted on today. 3:45 pm Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) moved to table Amendment Paul 1200. The amendment would require enhanced border security, including strong border security metrics and congressional votes on border security before legalization can begin.

  • The motion to table Paul 1200 passes 61-39.

4:36 pm: The Senate votes on Amendment Manchin 1286. The amendment provides for common sense limitations on salaries for contractor executives and employees involved in border security.

  • The amendment passes on a 72-26 vote.

5:05 pm: The Senate votes on Amendment Lee 1208. The amendment requires fast-track congressional approval when the Secretary of Homeland Security notifies Congress of the implementation of the border security strategies and certified that the strategies are substantially operational. Sen. Leahy (D-VT): I am speaking in opposition to this amendment. If we are going to make a promise for a pathway to citizenship it must be attainable.

  • AILA OPPOSES this amendment.
  • The amendment failed on a 39-59 vote.

5:24 pm: The Senate votes on Amendment Pryor 1298. The amendment would promote recruitment of former members of the Armed Forces and members of the reserve components of the Armed Forces to serve in the U.S. CBP and U.S. ICE. Senator Johanns (R-NE): I very proudly support this amendment and thank Senator Pryor for bringing it up.

  • The amendment passes on a voice vote.

5:26 pm: The Senate votes on Amendment Heller 1227. This amendment would include a representative from the Southwestern State of Nevada on the Southern Border Security Commission.

  • The amendment passes on a 89-9 vote.

5:46 pm: The Senate votes on Amendment Merkley 1237 (as modified). This amendment would increase the employment of Americans by requiring State workforce agencies to certify that employers are actively recruiting Americans and that Americans are not qualified or available to fill the positions that the employer wants to fill with H-2B nonimmigrants.

On 6/18/13, the Senate continued debating and voting on amendments to S.744. Here is the recap of the four amendments voted on today. 3:01 pm: the Senate votes on Thune Amendment 1197. The amendment would require the completion of the 350 miles of reinforced, double-layered fencing described in section 102(b)(1)(A) of the IIRAIRA before RPI status may be granted and to require the completion of 700 miles of such fencing before the status of RPIs may be adjusted to permanent resident status.

  • The amendment fails on a 39-54.

3:32 pm: the Senate votes on Landrieu Amendment 1222. The amendment would apply the amendments made by the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 retroactively to all individuals adopted by a citizen of the U.S. in an international adoption and to repeal the pre-adoption parental visitation requirement for automatic citizenship and to amend section 320 of the INA relating to automatic citizenship for children born outside of the U.S. who have a USC parent.

  • The amendment passed on a voice vote.

3:38 pm: the Senate votes on Vitter Amendment 1228. The amendment would prohibit the temporary grant of legal status to, or adjustment to citizenship status of, any individual who is unlawfully present in the U.S. until the Secretary of DHS certifies that the US-VISIT System (a biometric border check-in and check-out system first required by Congress in 1996) has been fully implemented at every land, sea, and air port of entry and Congress passes a joint resolution, under fast track procedures, stating that such integrated entry and exit data system has been sufficiently implemented.

  • The amendment fails on a 36-58 vote.

3:54 pm: The Senate votes on Tester Amendment 1198. The amendment would add four tribal government officials (two from Northern Border region, two from Southern Border) to the Border Oversight Task Force.

On 6/13/13, the Senate voted to table Senator Grassley's amendment 1195 which would prohibit the granting of RPI status until the Secretary has maintained effective control of the borders for 6 months. The amendment was successfully tabled (essentially killed) on a 57-43 vote. At the end of that vote, Senator Reid announced that because the minority party had objected to the amendment agreement there would be no more votes for the rest of the week and that they would reconvene on Monday. He also indicated that Senators should be prepared to work through next weekend (June 22 and 23) in order to pass the bill before the end of the month.

Here are a few highlights from the debate:

Senator Schumer (D-NY): This amendment would delay legalization for the 11 million people for 5-6 years. What do we do until then, what are we telling those 11 million? That if you hide successfully from the police then maybe 6 years from now you can have the right to work and to travel. This will clearly unravel the compromise of the bill. This amendment is opposed by all eight members of the "Gang of Eight."

Senator Leahy (D-VT): The pathway to citizenship must be earned, but it also must be attainable.

Senator Grassley (R-IA): We were promised a fair and transparent process. This move to table the bill is the opposite of that. We were promised border security after the amnesty bill in the 1980s, and we never got that. If we allow the RPI process to go through there will be no pressure on this or future administrations to get the job done to secure the border.

On 6/12/13, senators took the floor to make opening statements and statements in support of various amendments. The three biggest debates today included: Senator Cornyn's (R-TX) border security/trigger amendment (RESULTS Act), which saw Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Schumer (D-NY) fighting back against Senator Cornyn as he made his case; Senator Hatch's amendments on limiting eligibility to public services for all immigrants and requiring payment of all back taxes while also limiting access to the EITC for RPIs; and the debate between the majority and minority party on how many votes amendments will require to pass (60 or 51).

On 6/11/13 on a 84-15 vote the Senate successfully passed the motion to proceed on S.744 and began debate on the bill.

Starting 6/10/13, the full Senate began debating S.744.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 13061446.