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 LeahyThe Hill's 12:30 Report The Hill's 12:30 Report Passing US-Canada preclearance would improve security and economy 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 GrahamOvernight Cybersecurity: Retired general picked to head DHS | Graham vows to probe Russian election interference Overnight Tech: AT&T, Time Warner CEOs defend merger before Congress | More tech execs join Trump team | Republican details path to undoing net neutrality Overnight Finance: Trump blasts Carrier's union leader | What's in the spending bill | Jamie Dimon gets perch for Trump era | AT&T, Time Warner execs grilled MORE (R-S.C.) and Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeReid bids farewell to the Senate Reid defends relationship with McConnell in farewell speech Graham, Durbin 'encouraged' by Trump's comments on Dreamers MORE (R-Ariz.) are firm “yes” votes.
Sens. Jeff SessionsJeff Sessions House passes water bill with Flint aid, drought relief Liberal Dems: Trump filling Cabinet with 'stooges' Poll: Most say Trump will change DC MORE (R-Ala.), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyMnuchin, Price meet with GOP senators Business groups express support for Branstad nomination 10 no-brainer ways to cut healthcare costs without hurting quality MORE (R-Iowa), Mike LeeMike LeeSenate sends annual defense bill to Obama's desk Overnight Healthcare: Medical cures bill finally heads to White House Overnight Energy: Trump taps EPA foe to head agency | Energy reform bill officially dead MORE (R-Utah) and Ted CruzTed CruzThe Hill's 12:30 Report Cruz defends Trump's Taiwan call Ark., Texas senators put cheese dip vs. queso to the test MORE (R-Texas) are expected to vote “no.”
Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchMnuchin, Price meet with GOP senators Overnight Finance: Trump blasts Carrier's union leader | What's in the spending bill | Jamie Dimon gets perch for Trump era | AT&T, Time Warner execs grilled The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Utah) and John CornynJohn CornynMnuchin, Price meet with GOP senators House approves funding bill, but fate in Senate unclear Senate Dems hold out on spending deal, risking shutdown 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.