By The Hill Editors - 05/20/13 10:21 PM EDT
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 LeahySenate pressured to take up email privacy bill after overwhelming House vote House unanimously passes email privacy bill This week: Congress on track to miss Puerto Rico deadline 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 GrahamGOP warms to Trump Trump address gets mixed reaction from GOP Graham tears into Trump’s ‘pathetic’ foreign policy speech MORE (R-S.C.) and Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeSenate confirms Obama's long-stalled ambassador to Mexico McCain fundraiser faces felony drug charges in Arizona Rubio blocks Mexico ambassador nominee after talk of deal MORE (R-Ariz.) are firm “yes” votes.
Sens. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsGOP warms to Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report Donald Trump snags endorsements from two GOP chairmen MORE (R-Ala.), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyOvernight Defense: House panel approves 0B defense bill Carter pledges probe of sex assault testimony Grassley: Carter emails contained 'sensitive' information MORE (R-Iowa), Mike LeeMike LeeCruz: Boehner unleashed his ‘inner Trump’ Senate pressured to take up email privacy bill after overwhelming House vote House unanimously passes email privacy bill MORE (R-Utah) and Ted CruzTed CruzPennsylvania Senate rivals use Trump, Clinton as ammunition The problem with Ted Cruz GOP women push Trump on VP pick MORE (R-Texas) are expected to vote “no.”
Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchHatch asks Treasury for memo that decreases transparency of tax rules Senators roll out changes to criminal justice bill Abortion fight stalls Obama nominee MORE (R-Utah) and John CornynJohn CornynSenate confirms Obama's long-stalled ambassador to Mexico Overnight Healthcare: Medicare fight looms on Capitol Hill Senate GOP hardening stance against emergency funding for Zika 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.