Obama Holds Last Minute Rally For Immigration Bill
UPDATE The Senate voted 82-15 Tuesday afternoon on a motion to proceed to debate on the bill. All 15 “no” votes were cast by Republicans.
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In remarks at the White House, Obama rallied supporters of the measure, telling them that he stands behind it despite the fact that it doesn’t necessarily resemble the bill he would have written.
“To truly deal with this issue, Congress needs to act,” he said. “And that moment is now.”
Obama told Senate Republicans that “there is no good reason to stand in the way” of the bill.
Before he spoke, he was introduced by a Nigerian-born immigration activist named Tolu Olubunmi, who has been living in the U.S. illegally since she was brought here at the age of 14.
Olubunmi, who is one of the millions of so-called DREAMers who would gain legal status under the bill, explained how she wasn’t able to visit her father in Nigeria before he passed away in 2006 out of fear “that at any moment I could be torn away from my family.”
The Senate will hold a key procedural vote later today on the bill. Needing 60 votes to prevent a filibuster, the 54 Democrats in the Senate that are expected to vote for the legislation need to attract six Republicans to join their side. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) have all said that they’ll support opening up debate on the bill. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), one of the bill’s original co-sponsors, is also likely to oppose a filibuster.
Speaking on the Senate floor this morning, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also signaled his intention to allow debate on the measure to proceed. However, McConnell added that in order for him to vote in favor of the bill, itself, the border security provisions within the legislation must be strengthened through amendments.
“This bill has serious flaws,” he said. “I’ll vote to debate it and for the opportunity to amend it, but in the days ahead there will need to be major changes to this bill if it’s going to become law.”
Over in the House, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told ABC News this morning that he won’t oppose efforts to bring a similar bill to the floor. Without saying whether he’d support such a proposal, Boehner said that he’d like to schedule a vote sometime before the August recess.