By a vote of 82 to 15 on Tuesday, the Senate voted for cloture to proceed to consideration of the Rubio-Schumer immigration bill. The vote begins consideration by the full Senate of the legislation that would legalize 11 million illegal immigrants. It will likely dominate the Senate calendar through the rest of the month.
In addition to debate on the bill, the Senate will also consider amendments to the bill. It isn’t clear at this time, however, how many amendments will be allowed. In the Judiciary Committee, the two GOP members of the Gang of 8 talks on the committee, Sens. Flake and Graham, usually voted with Democrats to block significant changes to the bill. They, in addition to Sens. Rubio and McCain, will likely do the same on the Senate floor.
Significantly, Sen. Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, voted against the motion to proceed to the bill. In his position, Grassley is the highest-ranking Republican on immigration issues. He doesn’t often vote against procedural measures, like this motion. His vote indicates he has significant problems with the bill.
Sometime before the July 4th recess, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will file a motion to pass the legislation. That will set up another cloture vote, requiring 60 votes to vote on final passage. A vote to proceed to the bill isn’t a great predictor of the final vote. Many Senators who voted to take up debate on the bill will ultimately vote against the measure. The question, to be decided over the coming weeks, is how many.