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 LeahyDem senator asks for 'top to bottom' review of Syria policy A guide to the committees: Senate Verizon angling to lower price of Yahoo purchase: report 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 GrahamSpeaker Ryan faces crucial stretch March is the biggest month for GOP in a decade The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-S.C.) and Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeDem senator pushes back against GOP efforts to rescind internet privacy rules Dem super PAC ads pressure GOP senators to back independent Russia probe Week ahead: Net neutrality supporters rally on rule's second anniversary MORE (R-Ariz.) are firm “yes” votes.
Sens. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsSessions: I’m ‘not a fan’ of marijuana expansion Issa backs special prosecutor on Russia if justified President Trump's road test: Can he reach across the aisle and deliver? MORE (R-Ala.), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGOP senator grilled over DeVos vote during town hall Big Pharma must address high drug prices ObamaCare fix hinges on Medicaid clash in Senate MORE (R-Iowa), Mike LeeMike LeeCruz, Lee, Paul demand 'full repeal' of ObamaCare Lessons from the godfather of regulatory budgeting Congress must reform civil asset forfeiture laws MORE (R-Utah) and Ted CruzTed CruzCruz, Lee, Paul demand 'full repeal' of ObamaCare Dem senator: Confirm Gorsuch, Garland simultaneously THE MEMO: Trump takes the fight to Congress MORE (R-Texas) are expected to vote “no.”
Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchHow to marry housing policy and tax reform for millions of Americans Though flawed, complex Medicaid block grants have fighting chance A guide to the committees: Senate MORE (R-Utah) and John CornynJohn CornynSpeaker Ryan faces crucial stretch Governors: Trump says he's crafting his own ObamaCare plan Senate's No. 2 Republican pushing gun bill 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.