“Gang of Eight” members Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) failed to win 70 votes in favor of their immigration bill, missing an important, self-set goal that could stunt this effort’s political momentum moving forward.
The vote for cloture ending debate on the bill passed the Senate 68-32 on Thursday, and is set to be passed by the Senate completely by the same margin (barring any changes between the cloture vote and final vote) around 4 p.m.
Because the Gang of Eight only managed to pull off 68 votes, though this bill will pass the senate and be sent to the House, the House will not have much of a mandate to pass this legislation. Graham, for instance, said on Fox News Sunday he wanted 70 votes.
“I think we are on the verge of getting 70 votes,” Graham said. “That is my goal. It’s always been my goal. We are very, very close to 70 votes.”
Graham noted that he thought the Corker-Hoeven amendment “gets us over the top.”
Graham’s fellow Gang of Eight member Schumer argues the reason why the Senate needed 70 votes on this legislation is so the senate could politically pressure House Speaker John Boehner to take up the bill or something like it. Thus far, Boehner has pledged he would follow the Hastert Rule on immigration, meaning he would not bring up a bill that does not have the support of the majority of Republicans in the House onto the floor for a vote and pass it with largely Democratic votes. Boehner has said such a pledge extends to any conference report as well.
That means the only way something like the Gang of Eight bill ever would pass the House is if Boehner took a few Republican votes for the legislation and passed it with a majority of Democratic Party votes.
On the Senate floor recently, The Hill reported that Schumer remained adamant about the necessity for 70 votes. “We’re not there yet,” Schumer said of the target. “We’re climbing each day, but we’re not there yet. But I think we will get there.”
A GOP aide also recently told Breitbart News that “Schumer needs at least 70 because he knows it he’ll have greatly reduced momentum and will meet stiff resistance in the House.”
“It will be seen a failure to get less than 70 given the establishment support for it, the huge money behind it, having Senator Rubio as the lead pitch man, and having Reid and Obama whipping the votes,” the GOP aide said.
Now that the Gang of Eight missed its mark, it sets up a situation in which Boehner does not need to give in to leftist political pressure on immigration and can keep the House moving in the direction of more substantive immigration reform.
That does not, however, mean the pressure will not come from the Democrats and certain establishment Republicans. Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) are already working to try to push political momentum in that direction, and there are reports circulating that House Budget Committee chairman and former Vice Presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is going to take up Rubio’s role, promoting immigration reform in the House.