SALEM, Ohio — The Senate’s June 27 approval of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act — better known as immigration reform — is seen by most of the nation’s largest farm organizations as the second major victory of the month.
The first was the Senate-approved farm bill, which it passed June 10, 66-27.
But before either bills are sent to the president, they’ll need to get House approval. The House failed its own version of the farm bill June 20, by a vote of 195-234.
It is unclear whether the House will consider the immigration bill, or to what extent. Washington media reported prior to the vote that House Speaker John Boehner and House members would consider their own bill. But following the vote, there were some reports that Boehner and other representatives would use the holiday break to field views from their constituents.
U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., praised the Senate action and what he believes it will do on a national level.
“It will help 11 million people tired of looking over their shoulders and fearing deportation get right with the law and start down the pathway to citizenship,” he said in a prepared statement. “That path will be long and hard. … It will mean going to the back of the line, learning English and paying back taxes and fines.”
Tough, but fair
Reid said the legislation is “tough but also fair,” saying that above all else, “it is practical.”U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was one of the original eight bipartisan senators commissioned by President Barack Obama to put together the legislation.In April, when Rubio and the other senators introduced the bill, he called it “a first step toward achieving the strongest border security and enforcement measures in U.S. history.”
He added that it would modernize the legal immigration system to encourage economic growth and job creation, and end “today’s de facto amnesty” by dealing with the undocumented immigrant population.
Other Senators who comprised the “Gang of Eight” were Republicans John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Jeff Flake, R-Ariz, and Democrats Chuck Schumer D-N.Y., Dick Durbin D-Ill., Robert Menendez, D-N.J. and Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
In Ohio, Republican Sen. Rob Portman voted against the bill, while Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown was in favor.In Pennsylvania, Republican Sen. Patrick Toomey voted against, while Democratic Sen. Robert Casey was in favor.