Immigration reform is expected to be on the agenda Tuesday afternoon when President Obama and Vice President Biden sit down in the Oval Office with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders.
In the Senate, the bipartisan immigration bill won a key procedural victory on Monday afternoon that sets the stage for final passage later this week.
“Poll after poll, across the ideological spectrum, they want to see us solve our problem of our broken immigration system,” said New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, a key Democratic proponent the immigration reform package, on Jansing & Co. Tuesday. “And yesterday’s vote was pretty overwhelming and should send a strong message to the House when that becomes the final vote on passage.”
By a margin of 67 to 27, the Senate voted to move forward with debate on the immigration bill. The current form of the package includes a border security amendment intended to appease Senate Republicans concerns that the plan was light on border enforcement.
The amendment would double the size of the U.S. Border Patrol, fence an additional 700 miles along the southern border and expand the use of radar and unmanned aerial drones. Ultimately, 15 Republicans joined 52 Democrats voting in favor of the plan with enhanced border security measures.
“I think that is as robust a vote as you’re going to get on something as significant, as comprehensive and, in some cases, as controversial,” said Menendez. “And I think it is a tremendous acknowledgment of solving a problem the American people want to see solved.”
While Monday’s vote was a good sign for advocates of immigration reform several hurdles remain before the bill comes up for final passage. A group of 14 Senate Republicans signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, on Monday asking for more time to debate immigration reform and review the 1,076 page bill.
Pressure to move an immigration plan forward is mounting and attention is focusing on Speaker John Boehner and the role he will play in navigating a path for reform that can pass the House.