Immigration reform has gotten a new burst of life as a growing number of Senate Republicans have embraced the 1,000-page-plus legislation, setting up President Obama for a big victory this week.
The sudden surge in Republican support has been a pleasant surprise for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who urged the bill’s authors to focus on winning 60 votes — the minimum for passing it.
Instead, Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), the leaders of the Gang of Eight, are marching toward 70 votes, a target intended to put maximum pressure on the House to act.
The House is the X factor. The lower chamber is expected to pass narrow immigration bills that do not include a path to citizenship, which is a staple of the Senate legislation. Conservatives in the House, including Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), strongly oppose the Senate bill.
Still, an overwhelming bipartisan vote would be a strong boost for a Senate bill that just days ago was teetering.