WASHINGTON - Far-reaching immigration legislation cruised toward passage in the Senate as House Republicans pushed ahead Wednesday on a different approach that cracks down on millions living in the United States illegally rather than offering them a chance at citizenship.
Presidential politics took a more prominent role in a long-running national debate as Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tried to reassure conservatives that many of the criticisms of the bill, which he helped write, are "just not true."
The potential 2016 White House contender said in remarks on the Senate floor it has been difficult for him "to hear the worry and the anxiety and the growing anger in the voices of so many people who helped me get elected to the Senate and who I agree with on virtually every other issue."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., updates reporters on the pace of the immigration reform bill following a Democratic strategy session, Tuesday, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
The political impact of the issue aside, there was no doubt that the Senate bill was on track for passage by Thursday or Friday.
Supporters posted 67 votes or more on each of three procedural tests Wednesday, far more than the 60 needed to prevail. More than a dozen Republicans sided with Democrats on each, assuring bipartisan support that the bill's backers hope will change minds in the House.
At its core, the legislation includes numerous steps to prevent future illegal immigration, while at the same time it offers a chance at citizenship for millions living in the country illegally.