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Prez Hopefuls Come Home for Immigration Debate

It was all-hands-on-deck in the Senate Tuesday as the chamber cleared a key parliamentary threshold in order to resume debate on the immigration reform legislation crafted by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

For only the second day in June every able bodied senator cast a vote, with all six would-be presidents coming off the campaign trail and voting with the 64-senator majority to resume the immigration debate. Those six votes, four from declared Democrats running for president and two from Republicans, were critical to clearing the 60-vote hurdle required to take up the bill after its seeming demise earlier this month.

The so-called "grand bargain" still has a ways to go before passing the Senate -- Democrats hope for a late Friday vote on final passage - and even rockier road to go toward an even grander bargain being struck with the House if it passes a bill next month. But for now, President Bush secured a temporary win in his effort to pass his most important piece of domestic legislation before he leaves office January 2009.

Here's a breakdown of the key numbers in today's vote:

• 24-25: That's the near dead-even split in the Senate Republican Conference on the vote, with two dozen Republicans voting in favor of today's move. Democrats were much more in favor of the resuming the debate, with 39 voting 'yea', just nine voting 'nay; the two independents who caucus with Democrats, Joseph Lieberman (Conn.) and Bernie Sanders (Vt.), split their votes as Lieberman voted for the measure and Sanders opposed it.
• 21: That's the number of senators who switched from 'nay' earlier this month on a big vote on the legislation to 'yea' today. That so-called cloture vote in early June got just 45 senators moving to end debate and bring the legislation to final passage, seemingly killing the bill's hopes.
• 17: The number of Republicans who switched to 'yea' after Bush made his personal plea, attending their weekly Tuesday policy luncheon two weeks ago. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) brought aboard the lion's share of vote switchers and will have the heavy lift of trying to keep them aboard as the chamber debates some critical amendments in the days ahead.
• 4: The number of Democrats that joined up with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on today's vote, after voting 'nay' a few weeks ago. Those four were: Sens. Jeff Bingaman (N.M.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Mark Pryor (Ark.) and James Webb (Va.).
• 2: Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) were the only two senators to vote for the bill in the key vote earlier this month but against it today.
• 3: The number of prominent Democratic committee chairmen who still oppose the legislation: Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), chairman of the Finance Committee; Robert C. Byrd (W. Va.), chairman of the Appropriations Committee; and Jay Rockefeller (W. Va.), chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

By Paul Kane  |  June 27, 2007; 9:49 AM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign  
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