The Senate's immigration-reform coalition took a big hit a few moments ago. The upper chamber refused cloture on the comprehensive reform bill, meaning that unlimited debate will continue for the foreseeable future. The motion asked to limit the debate to 30 more hours, which would have produced a vote early next week at the latest.
This puts Harry Reid in a tough spot. He originally said that he would take immigration off the calendar if it could not be resolved by Monday. He now has to ask for another cloture vote, which would have to take place tomorrow at the earliest -- and given that only 33 people voted to end debate, he has an almost insurmountable obstacle to success.
I think the immigration bill just died. More in a moment.
UPDATE: All of the Republican caucus voted to block the bill, and got 15 Democrats and Vermont's Independent Bernie Sanders to go along with them. Those included Claire McCaskill, Max Baucus, Barbara Boxer, and more. This is a stiff loss for the coalition.
UPDATE II: Harry Reid backed down from his previous hard-line approach and said he would give the bill more time:
Still, the measure — a top priority for President Bush that's under attack from the right and left — got a reprieve when Majority Leader Harry Reid (news, bio, voting record), D-Nev., said he would give it more time before yanking the bill and moving on to other matters.
"We need to complete this marathon," Reid said.
His decision set the stage for yet another procedural vote later Thursday that will measure lawmakers' appetite for a so-called "grand bargain" between liberals and conservatives on immigration.
I figured he would do that. We'll see whether he can reverse the Dorgan amendment that has put a stake in the heart of the bill.