The extraordinary protocol for the vote highlighted its importance, with Vice President Biden presiding and the senators voting from their desks.
The New York Times summarized the bill’s key components as providing a 13-year path to citizenship for the 11 million “unauthorized” immigrants in the country, as well as tough border security provisions that must be put in place before the illegal immigrants can gain legal status.
(For AP’s roll call of the vote, click here.)
The Times reported that the “Gang of Eight” group of senators who drafted the bill’s framework delivered supportive speeches prior to the vote, signaling out Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). When he finished his speech, the other “Gang of Eight” senators gathered around him on the floor, patting him on the back and praising his oratory. “Good job,” said one. “I’m proud of you,” said another.
Rubio’s highly visible role in the process was seen by many as an attempt by the Republican Party to improve its standing among Hispanic voters.
A report in USA Today described the passage of the bill as “a historic step forward for President Obama on one of the most important planks of his second-term agenda.”
Following the vote, the White House released President Obama’s statement commenting on the bill’s passage. It read, in part:
If enacted, the Senate bill would establish the most aggressive border security plan in our history. It would offer a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are in this country illegally — a pathway that includes passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes and a penalty, and then going to the back of the line behind everyone who’s playing by the rules and trying to come here legally. It would modernize the legal immigration system so that it once again reflects our values as a nation and addresses the urgent needs of our time. And it would provide a big boost to our recovery, by shrinking our deficits and growing our economy.
Today, the Senate did its job. It’s now up to the House to do the same.…
As this process moves forward, I urge everyone who cares about this issue to keep a watchful eye. Now is the time when opponents will try their hardest to pull this bipartisan effort apart so they can stop commonsense reform from becoming a reality. We cannot let that happen.
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