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Immigration bill sails through Senate, has little hope in House
CBS News A comprehensive immigration reform bill passed with strong support in the Senate on Thursday, bringing Washington one step closer to accomplishing a major milestone that both Democrats and Republicans have long sought.
Now, however, the bill goes to the House, where, at best, it faces significant headwinds.
The measure passed 68 to 32, with Vice President Joe Biden presiding over the Senate chamber and the senators all casting their votes from their desks. Senators are rarely seated at their desks for votes -- the largely symbolic move is typically reserved for confirming Supreme Court nominees or major votes, such as the 2010 Affordable Care Act vote or the 2011 resolution commending troops and the intelligence community for the killing of Osama bin Laden.
The legislation's bipartisan authors delivered passionate arguments in favor of the legislation on the Senate floor, often making their remarks personal. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., one of the four Republicans who joined four Democrats to shape the bill, spoke about how his parents grew to love America after immigrating from Cuba.
"We focus so much on how immigrants can change America that we forget America has always changed immigrants even more," he said. "That's why I support this reform, not just because I believe in immigrants, but because I believe in America even more."
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., another one of the "gang of eight" senators who drafted the bill, stressed the political advantages of proving to the public that Congress can still function.
"I see this as a significant step toward the U.S. Senate being able to work together in a bipartisan fashion to do something that matters," he said. "Is this bill perfect? No... It is a good solution to a hard problem that can always be made better."
Graham also pointed out that, to extent, the effort should help Republicans.
"I'm doing great among Hispanics in South Carolina. The bad news: there are not very many who vote in a Republican primary," he said, adding that he's attempted to work with his colleagues "to start a process that will pay great dividends."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Thursday that he was "confident" the House would pass the legislation, even though House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said earlier in the day that his chamber will not simply take up whatever the Senate passes.
"We're going to do our own bill through regular order, and it will be legislation that reflects the will of our majority and the will of the American people," he said.
Crafting a bill that could win the majority support of the GOP caucus should prove to be a challenge. The House GOP conference plans to meet July 10 to discuss the way forward on immigration.
For updates, check out the CBS News website by clicking here.