Senate negotiators have officially submitted the text of a compromise border security component of comprehensive immigration reform, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid teeing up a final vote on the legislation before the Senate recesses for its Fourth of July break.
Senators officially filed the amendment Friday afternoon, capping off marathon negotiations to achieve a deal designed to win the support of more than a dozen Republicans without alienating Democrats and the bipartisan group of lawmakers who drafted the original bill.
The compromise language – drafted by Republican Sens. John Hoeven of North Dakota and Bob Corker of Tennessee – would double the number of border patrol agents and require completion of 700 miles of border fencing.
Praising the work of the bipartisan group of lawmakers on the immigration bill, Reid called the process “another example of how to get things done” and said that their work has set the stage for strong bipartisan support for the legislation.
Reid has scheduled the first of a series of procedural votes on the legislation for 5:30pm on Monday.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-N.J., who shepherded the bill through the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year, said that the new border measures “read like a Christmas wish list for Halliburton” but that he will support the overall legislation because of the urgency of the nation’s immigration problems.
Some Republican opponents of the legislation have fiercely criticized the Hoeven-Corker amendment, calling it a “fig leaf” that will not guarantee future waves of illegal immigration.
“We're told .. that we still will see today a magic amendment, the amendment to fix everything,” Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions said sarcastically on the Senate floor while awaiting the amendment’s final language. “We can just relax and go home and take a good nap because we've got an amendment that's going to fix all the problems in the legislation.”