With Idaho Republican Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch both voting "no" in a losing effort, the U.S. Senate Thursday afternoon approved landmark immigration reform, the biggest overhaul in a generation, impacting at least 11,000,000 undocumented individuals in the United States.
By a 68-32 approval, with 14 Republicans joining the Democratic majority, the Senate bill provides a 13-year path toward citizenship for unauthorized immigrants to the United States and toughens border security to record levels.
Crapo argued that the just-passed measure, known as Senate Bill 744, did an inadequate job in stopping what he called "the rising problem of visa overstays."
"These legal, temporary immigrants never leave the country on the required departure date, and often remain for years due to the lack of exit accountability. As a result, visa overstays account for an estimated 40 percent of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States," said Crapo.
Meanwhile, House Republican Speaker Rep. John Boehner wasted no time in dousing any optimism about passage from the GOP-controlled House.
"The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes," said Boehner. "We're going to do our own bill."
The Senate approval followed five days of marathon sessions to secure bipartisan support, while surviving the consideration of more than 300 separate amendments to the legislation. The 14 Republican votes were secured primarily through the addition of nearly $40 billion over the next decade for border enforcement including 20,000 new Border Patrol agents and 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.