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GOP Senators Predict Quick Death for Senate Immigration Bill in House

Image: GOP Senators Predict Quick Death for Senate Immigration Bill in House

By Todd Beamon   |   Thursday, 27 Jun 2013 08:48 PM

Republican reaction was swift and strong Thursday to the Senate's passing of sweeping immigration reform legislation, with many senators predicting the measure will fail in the House of Representatives.

"Sponsors of this legislation, despite the array of financial, establishment, and special-interest support, failed to hit their target of 70 votes," said Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican who has long railed against the bill. "The more people learned about the bill, the more uneasy they became.

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"Failure to reach 70 votes is significant, and ensures the House has plenty of space to chart an opposite course and reject this fatally flawed proposal," Sessions said. "It is a broken promise, 1,200 pages long."

"This is a bill led by Democrats," Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul declared on Fox News. "There will be a bill proposed for immigration reform led by Republicans in the House, and I'm hoping that's something that I can get behind."

The Senate voted 68-32 — with the backing of 14 Republicans — to approve the reform legislation introduced by the bipartisan Gang of Eight senators in April. The group includes Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Marco Rubio of Florida, both of whom voted in favor of the reform measure.

Democrats in the group include Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Dick Durbin of Illinois.

The legislation calls for increased border security, and requires illegal immigrants to pass criminal background checks, pay fines, learn English, and pay taxes before getting in line for citizenship, among other reforms.

It also included $46 billion in enhanced border-security measures, including the doubling of U.S. Border Patrol agents to 40,000 and the increased use of surveillance technology along the border. This would include unmanned drones, cameras, and ground sensors.

The bill also would double the amount of fencing along the Mexico border to 700 miles. About 40 miles of fencing currently lines the border.

The Senate vote capped three weeks of contentious debate, with Republicans charging the legislation was amnesty for 11 million-plus illegal immigrants, that it did little to strengthen the nation's borders, and that the Democratic leadership was rushing such complex legislation into law.

In the House, Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday that the lower chamber was not going to take up the Senate bill.

"I think I made it clear that if we're going to do this the right way, there ought to be a majority of Democrats and a majority of Republicans in favor of it," the Ohio Republican said, ABC News reports.

Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana agreed.

"This has no momentum at all in the House," he said of the Senate legislation.

Meanwhile, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio charged that the bill did little to improve the nation's E-Verify system, which allows employers to confirm an immigrant's legal status.

Portman said a stronger E-Verify system would block at least 40 percent of illegal immigrants from passing a job background check. "Implementing an effective E-Verify system is the most critical element in making immigration reform work," he said.

"The legislation the Senate voted on is not a real fix because it does not include the new enforcement measures needed as part of a comprehensive package," Portman added.

He said the legislation would essentially legalize millions of illegal immigrants — but without adequate "border and workplace enforcement to curtail future illegal immigration."

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, said any reform legislation needs provisions to "reduce the wait-time and simplify the process for those entering the country legally.

"Unfortunately, instead of proving to the American public that Congress is serious about border security and enforcing the laws already on the books, the final Senate bill gives weak promises on border security, leaving many aspects of implementation to the discretion of the Homeland Security Secretary," Thune said.

"Simply put, the Senate immigration bill is legalization first and empty promises of border security second," he added.

And Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who also has consistently spoken out against the bill, said the vote reflected a "fatally flawed" process.

"It was written behind closed doors with special interests," Cruz said. "In the Judiciary Committee, the Gang of Eight and Democrats blocked all substantive amendments because of a previously cooked deal — and on the Senate floor, the majority blocked any attempts to fix the bill."

Latest: Do You Support Giving Illegals Citizenship? Vote Here Now

Cruz also attacked a provision that created a tax penalty of nearly $5,000 for employers who hired U.S. citizens or legal immigrants. But the penalty does not apply to those in Registered Provisional Immigrant status, which would be created to adjust the status of illegals to legal status.

"That is indefensible," Cruz charged. "I filed an amendment to fix this defect, but I was blocked by Senate Democrats from receiving a vote on that solution.

"Sadly, this bill won't fix the problem with our immigration system; it will only encourage more illegal immigration and human suffering."

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