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Two senators to return briefly to pass border bill

From Brianna Keilar, CNN
  • NEW: Only two of the 100 senators will return from recess for a brief session Thursday
  • NEW: Senate rules allow passage by unanimous consent by as few as two senators
  • The Thursday session will pass a border security bill
  • The August recess began last week, and continues until September 13

Washington (CNN) -- Two of the nation's 100 U.S. senators will return Thursday from their August recess to give the chamber's unanimous consent for $600 million in emergency funding to help secure the U.S.-Mexico border.

A notice from Majority Leader Harry Reid's office said the session would pass a resolution on the death of former Sen. Ted Stevens and pass the border spending bill, which then would go to President Barack Obama to be signed into law. The House passed the measure Tuesday.

"This will be an extremely short session, as we will just be doing these two items," Reid's notice said. "Once the session concludes tomorrow, we are out until September 13."

The two who will conduct the session are Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer of New York, the sponsor of the border security bill, and Ben Cardin of Maryland.

Senators passed a similar border funding plan last week, but must vote again on the House measure that includes the language on border funding. Reid's announcement signaled that Senate Republicans have agreed to approve the bill by unanimous consent, a voice vote that doesn't require the return of the entire chamber.

Among other things, the bill provides for roughly 1,500 new law enforcement agents, new unmanned aerial vehicles, new forwarding operating bases and $14 million in new communications equipment.

The measure has attracted strong Democratic and Republican support. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano praised the plan last week, saying it would "add important, permanent resources to continue bolstering security on our Southwest border."

"These assets are critical to bringing additional capabilities to crack down on transnational criminal organizations and reduce the illicit trafficking of people, drugs, currency and weapons," she said.

The bill is funded in part by imposing higher fees on personnel companies that bring foreign workers into the United States.

From CNN's Brianna Keilar