On Thursday, the Republican architects of the Senate bill — including Senators John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mel Martinez of Florida and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska — supported the decision to bring the fencing measure to a final vote. The lawmakers, who still favor the legalization of illegal immigrants, have said they view the fence as one step toward achieving their broader legislative goals.
One Republican, Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, voted against shutting off debate on the fence. Eighteen Democrats voted in favor of it.
Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, described the vote as a crucial effort toward stopping the flood of illegal immigrants pouring into the United States.
“We know that fencing works,” Mr. Sessions said. “It’s time to make it a reality. Then we’ll have some credibility with the American people. Then we can talk comprehensively about how to fix an absolutely broken immigration system.”
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