Immigration Reform Bill Passed By U.S. Senate; Future Uncertain

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A supermajority of U.S. senators passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill Thursday, but as historic as that is, the future of reform is still far from certain.

Reid v. Boehner

The bill would grant 11 million undocumented immigrants immediate legal status and a path to citizenship while sending $30 billion to theĀ  border for security.

The border security provision was added Wednesday and helped win support of Republicans. The final vote was 68-32 with support from 14 Republicans.

Yet the future of a comprehensive reform bill, even one that includes a "border surge" to double the border patrol and security, is very much unclear.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), an author of the bill, said the vote would create a "drum beat" of pressure for his GOP colleagues over in the House.

President Obama, in a written statement from Africa, praised the Senate for "bringing us a critical step closer to fixing our broken immigration system once and for all."

Senators sat at their desks to demonstrate the historic nature of the immigration vote years in the making. Vice President Joe Biden presided over the vote.

Said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV):

"We're poised to pass a historic immigration bill. It's landmark legislation that will secure our borders and help 11 million people get right with the law."

Immigration reform has split Republicans, still smarting after a bitter defeat in the 2012 election, but did pick up some key, big-name support.

Sen. Marco Rubio, the party's rising star from Florida, and Sen. John McCain, the GOP 2008 presidential nominee, joined in with a "Gang of 8" bipartisan senators.

They wrote the first draft of the legislation that passed Thursday.

But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he would not vote for the plan and predicted it would not pass the House in its current form.

He did note that the current immigration bill before the Senate highlights the importance of strengthening the border and called it the key to achieving reform.

In order for a bill to even be considered in the House, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has said it would need to have support from a majority of Republicans.

The vote in the Senate, while bipartisan with 14 GOP votes, fell well short of gaining support from a majority of half of the chamber's 46 Republicans.

No Democrats opposed the bill in the Senate.

In the House, where Republicans are more keen on a piecemeal rather than a comprehensive approach, its passage seems far from likely.

If some version of immigration reform can pass the House, it would have to be reconciled with the legislation that passed the Senate today.

When and it that happens remains to be seen.

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