White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday that the administration supported Sen. Patrick Leahy's (D-Vt.) proposed amendment to allow gay Americans to sponsor foreign-born partners for green cards, but would not insist it be included in the Gang of Eight’s bipartisan immigration-reform bill.
"The legislation crafted by the Gang of Eight broadly reflects the principles that the President has laid out, but it is not word for word in keeping with all of what he would do if he were to write it himself," Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One.
The tightrope-walking underscored the delicacy of next week's markup to the immigration bill. While the president and Senate Democrats support the provision, and it appears to have the votes to pass in committee, adopting the change could ultimately doom the bill on the Senate floor or in the Republican-controlled House.
Carney wouldn't say if the president and Leahy, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, had spoken directly about the vote.
"I don’t have a specific conversation between the president and any lawmaker on this to read out to you, but we are in contact with all the major players," Carney said.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the bipartisan group which drafted the bill, told BuzzFeed earlier this year that the provision was a "landmine" that could ultimately doom the immigration push.
"I can tell you this," he said. "This issue is so complicated. The immigration issue has so many landmines and pitfalls that it's going to be hard enough to do, as is. I think if that issue becomes a central issue in the debate, it's just going to make it harder to get it done because there's going to be a lot of strong feelings about it on both sides."