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Senate panel starts amending immigration bill
Senate panel starts amending immigration bill Supporters for immigration reform from the group Campaign for Citizenship say a prayer prior to the start of the reform bill's markup before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
May 9th, 2013
05:38 PM ET

Senate panel starts amending immigration bill

By Alan Silverleib, CNN Congressional Producer

Washington (CNN) - The first congressional votes were cast on Thursday on the politically explosive issue of immigration reform.

Members of the Democratic-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee started formal consideration of a massive bipartisan bill, debating and voting on the first of more than 300 proposed amendments.

The contentious issue of border security was quickly raised in the form of a proposed "trigger" amendment from Iowa's Chuck Grassley - the top Republican on the panel. It would block the legalization of any undocumented residents until law enforcement established "effective" control of the entire U.S.-Mexico border for six months.

Grassley's proposal failed, with 12 of the panel's 18 members voting no. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake - two Republicans from the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" group that crafted the overall bill - joined committee Democrats in opposing the measure.

The four Democrats and four Republicans comprising the "Gang of Eight" have pledged to oppose any substantial changes to the legislation.

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