Immigration reform: Senate backs ‘border surge’ in test vote

The support of 67 senators from both parties on a test vote for a so-called “border surge” deal on Monday strongly signaled that a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws will clear the Senate later this week.

The amendment, from Republican Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota, cleared a procedural vote in the Senate 67-27. Fifteen Republicans voted in favor of cloture, and no Democrats broke from their party to oppose the measure.

The overwhelming vote Monday will accelerate the Senate momentum for immigration reform as its supporters race toward a self-imposed July 4 deadline to pass the bill. The Gang of Eight authors have inched closer to a supermajority of votes that could be as high as 70 after the group struck a deal with Corker and Hoeven that bolsters security resources for the U.S.-Mexico boundary.

(PHOTOS: 20 quotes on immigration reform)

“This vote shows that the pro-immigration forces on both sides of the aisle continue to make progress. We realize we have a long hard road ahead of us, but this vote puts the wind at our back,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

But frustration among some Senate Republicans over what they see as a plodding floor process boiled over on Monday, as 14 GOP senators vented in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that their amendments weren’t getting heard. They are angry that there haven’t been enough votes on the Senate floor and many of the changes to the bill are being incorporated in a single Corker-Hoeven amendment.

The broad Corker-Hoeven compromise is likely the last major change to the immigration bill. Reid filed cloture on the overall Gang of Eight bill Monday afternoon, which sets up another procedural vote for Wednesday.

Though some senators are demanding more time and opportunities to offer amendments, an agreement to vote on them would require unanimous consent, which appears unlikely.

“We could have had three genuine weeks on this bill, processing amendments and having votes,” Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Monday. “Yet we’re forced to vote on packages that were concocted behind closed doors.”

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