Washington: The Senate has voted to advance a landmark immigration bill, clearing away the first procedural hurdle in front of legislation that would open the door to US citizenship for millions.
The 82-15 vote on Tuesday was the first cast by the full Senate on the far-reaching bill that`s a top priority for President Barack Obama.
Hours earlier Obama appeared at the White House to prod Congress to send him a bill by autumn.
Despite the lopsided tally on the procedural test, many Republicans made clear that they would require significant changes to the bill to be able to support it on final passage, particularly in the area of border security.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to get the bill through the Senate before July 4.
However, Republican Senator from Texas, John Cornyn, said he voted against and oppose the Gang of 8 bill because it fails to provide a real plan to secure US border and keep the nation safe, offering lofty promises without any guarantees.
Senator Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, voted to proceed to the bill and said there are certainly conditions under which he could end up supporting an immigration bill.
"We`re going to find out in the course of the next three weeks whether this becomes a bill that I and others can be comfortable supporting" he said.
"I think the status quo is completely unacceptable and that we ought to be trying to improve both the legal and the illegal situation. The legal immigration improvements in the bill are really quite good things that we should have done years ago. The contentious parts of it obviously are in the categories of benefits and borders," McConnell said.