WASHINGTON - The US Senate, after a decade of trying and failing, on Thursday passed a wide-ranging immigration bill that would put 11 million foreigners now living illegally in the United States on a path to American citizenship.
The bill, backed by US President Barack Obama, would invest $46 billion in new funding to increase border security and revamp the US visa system.
But it faces strong opposition in the House of Representatives, where many Republicans oppose giving legal status and eventual citizenship to the 11 million.
The vote fell two votes short of what some of its main backers had said was necessary to pressure the House of Representatives to act.
The Senate voted 68-32 for the bill, giving more than two-thirds support in the 100-member chamber. Earlier, backers said they were pushing to get 70 votes to help sway the more conservative House to consider it.
Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa called the failure to hit 70 votes a strategic setback for proponents. Yet backers insisted that they were happy with 68-32 tally, saying it demonstrated broad bipartisan support, and eight more than the 60 that is traditionally needed to clear procedural roadblocks.