Senators tout 70 votes for immigration reform as Paul predicts bill already ‘dead’ in House
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Even with one of the Senate’s strongest opponents to the chamber’s sweeping  immigration-reform bill saying Sunday that the legislation will likely pass this  week with a resounding 70 votes, Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul predicted  the legislation was doomed in the more conservative House.

“It’s dead on arrival in the House,” said the Tea Party-backed Paul. “The  House is much closer to me.”

Paul made the remarks as Utah Sen. Mike Lee, among the most conservative  Senate Republicans, told “Fox News Sunday” the bill is “likely to pass” with as  many as 70 votes.

Their remarks comes as the Senate prepares for a preliminary but key vote on  the bill Monday night or Tuesday that should result in Senate passage by the  Democratic leadership’s goal of July 4.

President Obama is also hosting a meeting Monday at the White House with  eight CEOs, business owners and entrepreneurs to discuss immigration reform, and  to push for support of the bill among the business community.

Obama is expected to emphasize a report released by the Congressional Budget  Office last week that said the bill would increase the real GDP by up to 3.3% in  2023, and by 5.4% in 2033.

The group of senators that crafted the legislation is trying to get 70 votes  to show the bill has widespread bipartisan support in the Democrat-controlled  chamber and to give it momentum as it heads into the Republican-controlled House  with a more uncertain future.

The Senate last week introduced a so-called Border Surge amendment, which  included 70,000 additional U.S. border agents and 700 more miles of border  fencing, to garner support from lawmakers who said the influx of illegal  immigrants remains a problem and to put added political pressure on House  conservatives.

Still, Paul told CNN’s “State of the Union” that lawmakers in the House “think border security has to come first before you get immigration reform.”

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer — a Democratic member of the bipartisan,  so-called Gang of Eight that crafted the legislation — also predicted the bill  will get 70 votes and would “change the dynamic in the House.”

Schumer told CNN the bipartisan support for the legislation that should  result in the 70 votes also will put “huge pressure” on House Speaker John  Boehner, R-Ohio, not to block immigration reform.

If the bill passed the Senate, Boehner will be faced with honoring the will  of the majority of House Republicans who don’t appear to want to pass the  legislation or honoring the majority of the chamber — some Republicans and some  Democrats — that appears to want at least a full floor vote.

He also must consider what message blocking the legislation will send to  Hispanic voters, who gave President Obama roughly 70 percent of their vote in  the 2012 election.

Still, Lee remains steadfast that passing the roughly 1,200-page bill is a  mistake. He continues to argue that Congress should take a more step-by-step  approach, starting with further securing the U.S.-Mexico border.

“It could take years to implement the border-security measures,” he  said.

Lee said the lawmakers crafted the bill with the “best intentions” but  failed.

“They said it is tough and fair, but it’s neither,” he said.

The bill would provide a years-long path to citizenship for the roughly 11  million illegal immigrants now living in the U.S.

Lee was joined on Fox by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican  member of the Gang of Eight.

“We are very, very close,” Graham said. “The amendment gets us over the  top.”

 

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