The Senate has formally adopted a compromise border security amendment to the Senate’s immigration bill as the legislation continues a march to expected passage later this week.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is critical of a so-called "grand compromise" on border security while speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday.
The vote to accept the “border surge” measure, introduced by Republican Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota, was 69-29, with all Democrats and 15 Republicans supporting it.
The measure was set up for passage in by key procedural vote on Monday, one that demonstrated a modest but significant influx of GOP support for the comprehensive immigration overhaul after the Republican duo’s efforts to court more conservative votes.
The border security provisions include doubling the number of patrol agents at the nation’s southern border and directing the completion of 700 miles of fencing. Opponents say they’re skeptical that those steps will ever be completed.
Efforts to hit 70 votes for the legislation appear to have fallen slightly short. Republican and Democratic leaders had been working on an agreement to bring additional amendments up for votes, but Senate Majority Harry Reid was unable to move a package of 32 bipartisan measures to the floor for debate Wednesday.
One such measure, an amendment to tighten the bill's E-Verify requirements, could have brought the support of sponsor Republican Sen. Rob Portman but that is now unclear.
Adam Jentleson, an aide to Reid, said that while Portman was asked to be a co-sponsor, he was not required to and that it was in no way the "price of admission" for the inclusion of his amendment.
"In the end it seems he was just looking for an excuse to vote against the bill," he said of Portman.
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, an opponent of the Senate bill, objected to that package of 32 amendments, saying he feels "used and abused" by Democrats' demands.Despite the wrangling, the Senate bill is still expected to pass with bipartisan support, but its fate in the House remains uncertain.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner reiterated in a closed-door meeting with his GOP colleagues this morning that he will not bring the Senate immigration bill to the floor wholesale, regardless of how many Republican votes it garners in the upper chamber.
Members of the GOP-controlled House are currently working on their own immigration legislation.
NBC’s Frank Thorp contributed.
This story was originally published on Wed Jun 26, 2013 12:45 PM EDT