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Vulnerable Senators Vote Against Border Bill

Republican and Democratic senators facing tough re-election fights voted against a border bill on Wednesday.
Image: Mary Landrieu
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Disaster Recovery subcommittee Chair Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., asks a question of FEMA Deputy Administrator Administrator Harvey Johnson on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 30, 2008, during the subcommittee's hearing on plans for housing large numbers of people displaced by disasters. Susan Walsh / AP

Eleven Republican senators on Wednesday voted to move forward with emergency funding to help alleviate the crisis on the U.S. border. But the two Senate GOPers facing tough primary fights next month were not among them.

Immigration has been a focus in primaries in Tennessee and Kansas, where longtime Sens. Lamar Alexander and Pat Roberts are both facing challenges from tea party candidates.

Roberts missed the vote entirely: He was campaigning Wednesday in Emporia, Kan. Opponent Milton Wolf announced he was planning to "crash" Roberts' event there in an attempt to force him to debate.

Alexander was in Washington, but voted against opening debate on the $2.7 billion measure. He's facing tea party favorite Joe Carr, who's made "amnesty" a key issue in the race. Alexander voted in favor of the comprehensive immigration reform legislation that passed the Senate last year before promptly becoming anathema among conservative base voters.

The issue cuts both ways: Two Senate Democrats also voted against the emergency funding measure. Sens. Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana are both facing tough general election fights.

The House is expected to vote on a separate funding bill before Congress leaves for the month of August, meaning the differences are unlikely to be resolved before the fall.