Which senators voted to debate the immigration bill? (And who didn’t?)

June 11, 2013

The Senate voted 82 to15 on Tuesday to bring up a comprehensive immigration reform bill for a debate that is expected to last weeks.


The Senate's immigration "Gang of Eight" who wrote the comprehensive immigration reform bill. (Post)

That's a healthy vote margin for any piece of legislation, but remember the vote was only on the procedural matter of beginning formal debate on the bill.

So how did folks vote?

YES: 55 Democrats and 27 Republicans.

Among Republicans, the notable "yes" votes included Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Bob Corker (Tenn.) and Johnny Isakson (Ga.) — a cluster of Republicans that Democrats believe will stay with them to vote for final passage. Also, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — a potential 2016 presidential contender — voted yes.

Other Republicans voting yes were top GOP leaders Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and his deputy, John Cornyn (Tex.), both of whom say they want Cornyn's tough border security amendment added to the bill before they vote to support the final version.

NO: No Democrats voted no, but 15 Republicans did: Sens. John Barrasso (Wyo.), John Boozman (Ark.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Ted Cruz (Tex.), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), James Inhofe (Okla.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Mike Lee (Utah), James Risch (Idaho), Pat Roberts (Kan.), Tim Scott (S.C.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Richard Shelby (Ala.) and David Vitter (La.).

Cruz, Grassley, Lee and Sessions serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee and also voted no when the panel referred the bill to the full Senate. Cruz said Tuesday on the Senate floor that "This bill is going to pass the Senate. But as written, this bill will not pass the House. As written, this bill will not pass into law and if this bill came into law, it would not solve" the nation's immigration problems.

Vitter said he voted against the measure because of its $6.3 trillion price tag -- one of only a few senators to use economics, rather than specific concerns with the bill -- as a reason to oppose the measure.

Perhaps the most notable "no" vote is Kirk, who was believed by supporters to be supportive of the bill and comes from a state with a sizable immigrant community (Hispanics, Asians and Eastern Europeans, especially.). No word yet from his office why he voted no.

DIDN'T VOTE: Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Coburn was late for the vote because he was attending a Senate Intelligence Committee briefing with the director of the National Security Agency, his spokesman said. Aides say McCain was flying back from Berlin, where he joined former secretary of state Henry Kissinger to award the Kissinger Prize posthumously to Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist, a leader of the German resistance movement against Adolf Hitler during World War II. Tonight, McCain has an event with Arizona State University featuring former president Bill Clinton in New York. Murkowski was late getting back to Washington from attending to a family matter out West, a spokesman said.

HOW DID THE GANG OF EIGHT VOTE?: Seven of the eight members — excluding McCain — voted to proceed with debate. A reminder that the "G8" as it's been nicknamed, includes Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), McCain, Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).

WHAT ABOUT THE NEW GUY?:  You mean Sen. Jeff Chiesa (R-N.J.), who replaced the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.)? He voted "yes" to proceed with debate.

UPDATE 4:45 p.m.: Shortly after 4 p.m., the Senate voted to adopt the motion to proceed and actually begin debating the bill and proposing amendments. On this vote, senators voted 84 to 15. Coburn, Murkowski and Grassley joined the "yes" votes, while Cochran switched his vote in this case and voted "no." McCain didn't vote (see above).

This item has been updated to reflect Murkowski and McCain's whereabouts.

Follow Ed O'Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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