Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey voted no Monday night on a procedural test vote on the comprehensive immigration package, signaling that he would also vote against the bill on final passage.
Toomey was considered a possible GOP pick up on immigration given his recent across the aisle work on background checks and his tough re-election road ahead in 2016. But Toomey gave himself an out last week when he introduced a business-friendly amendment - that had little chance of being included in the final bill - to increase the number of work visas for low-skilled immigrants, arguing on the Senate floor that they deserved a legal path to the American dream or they'd find a way in illegally.
"I voted against the Hoeven-Corker amendment to the immigration bill because it does not solve the fundamental problem of our current immigration policy and the underlying bill, namely, inadequate legal immigration and guest worker provisions for low-skilled workers," Toomey said in a statement after the vote.
Moreover, Toomey said, "This badly flawed, back-room process has led to a flawed bill." And he noted that he is unlikely to support the final bill. Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. Bob Casey voted for the measure.
The new language at the center of the vote Monday night was a compromise made with on-the-fence Republicans to increase border security with $40 billion spent on increased border agents and surveillance technology. The underlying bill provides a path to citizenship to 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
Some conservative Republicans contend that the bill simply provides "amnesty" to people who broke the law. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-11th District, one of the most staunchly anti-illegal immigration lawmakers in Congress, said in a statement after the Senate vote that "granting amnesty to untold millions would be a fiscal drain on the federal budget, the economy and legal American residents."
The Senate will pass the bill with close to 70 votes by the end of the week, but how the Republican-led House deals with it next remains to be seen.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun