The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to pass sweeping landmark immigration reform later this week, but there will be some drama between now and then.
A slew of politically sensitive amendments need to be dealt with, ranging from H-1B visas to gay rights.
Republicans said that Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyJustice, FBI to be investigated over Clinton probes Sessions: Grabbing a woman's genitals without consent is sexual assault Live coverage of Sessions confirmation hearing MORE’s (D-Vt.) amendment that would provide equal treatment for same-sex couples would torpedo the entire bill. Leahy has not said he will offer the measure, but if he does, at least one Democrat on the Judiciary panel would have to vote “no” to kill it.
Gay-rights supporters are pressing for the adoption of the Leahy legislation. President Obama has noted his support behind the spirit of the measure, but noted that compromise is the key to passing an immigration bill.
If the gay-rights amendment is rejected, the underlying immigration bill could get anywhere from 12 to 14 votes on the 18-member Judiciary panel.
All 10 Democrats are expected to back the final product, and Gang of Eight Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Graham9 GOP senators Trump must watch out for UN leader willing to meet lawmakers amid push to cut funding GOP lawmaker: Calling Putin a war criminal could lead to conflict with Russia MORE (R-S.C.) and Jeff FlakeJeff Flake9 GOP senators Trump must watch out for The road ahead for America’s highways Graham, Durbin reintroduce bill to protect 'Dreamers' MORE (R-Ariz.) are firm “yes” votes.
Sens. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsBooker will attend inauguration Mega-mergers poised to get green light under Trump WHIP LIST: How many Dems will back Sessions? MORE (R-Ala.), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyJeff Sessions will protect life Justice, FBI to be investigated over Clinton probes Pence meets with Kaine, Manchin amid Capitol Hill visit MORE (R-Iowa), Mike LeeMike LeeRight renews push for term limits as Trump takes power Conservatives press Trump on Supreme Court pick Overnight Finance: Ethics chief blasts Trump business plan | Senate begins late-night marathon vote | Lawmakers look to rein in Trump on trade MORE (R-Utah) and Ted CruzTed CruzRight renews push for term limits as Trump takes power Dissenting nominees give hope to GOP skeptics of Trump UN leader willing to meet lawmakers amid push to cut funding MORE (R-Texas) are expected to vote “no.”
Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchDems push for outside witnesses at Mnuchin hearing Live coverage: The Senate's 'vote-a-rama' Republicans scramble on ObamaCare replacement plan MORE (R-Utah) and John CornynJohn CornynTrump opens can of worms with blast at drugmakers Senators wrestle with whether to back Tillerson Senate takes first step toward repealing ObamaCare MORE (R-Texas) are seen as possible “yes” votes. Hatch has been working closely with key Democrats on easing employer restrictions on hiring foreign high-skilled workers. If he gets what he wants on the H-1-B issue, he will vote “yes.”
Cornyn, a high-ranking member of leadership, hails from a state that has seen an explosion in the growth of Hispanics. But he and Cruz have voted similarly a lot this year, and Cruz has blasted the bill’s path to citizenship provisions.
Democrats want to get 70 votes on the Senate floor. To do that, they will have to broaden the GOP support beyond the Gang of Eight. The immigration measure will pass the Judiciary panel, but it will have far more momentum if it passes 14-4 as opposed to 12-6.