By Hill Staff - 06/11/13 11:45 PM EDT
There has been a lot of speculation about whether the Senate immigration reform bill has the votes to pass.
Sen. Robert MenendezRobert MenendezSenate confirms Obama's long-stalled ambassador to Mexico Democrats block energy spending bill over Iran amendment Senate close to voting on Mexico ambassador MORE (D-N.J.) last month suggested it didn’t. Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidDemocrats race to link GOP incumbents to Trump Mellman: Give positive a chance Koch network super-PAC launches ad buys in Wisconsin, Nevada MORE (D-Nev.) then said it did. But Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioFlorida's GOP governor urges Congress to approve Zika funding Shellshocked GOP donors give Trump a second look Never Trump voices face tough decision MORE (R-Fla.) said nope, still short.
On Tuesday, the Gang of Eight’s measure cleared two procedural hurdles, the first by a count of 84-15. Among those who voted “yes” was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellMcConnell pledges to support Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report Garland confirmation vital to fair consideration of SCOTUS cases MORE (R-Ky.), who voted against procedural motions on immigration reform in 2007.
It’s unclear whether McConnell and other Senate Republicans will vote for on final passage. The minority leader is up for reelection next year, and says the bill needs “major changes.”
Many Republicans, including McConnell and Senate Minority Whip John CornynJohn CornynGOP urged to confirm Supreme Court nominee after Trump win Judiciary Dems seek hearing on voting rights First US Zika death reported in Puerto Rico MORE (Texas), are pushing for tougher border-security provisions. Democrats, such as Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerRyan goes all-in on Puerto Rico Cruz's dad: Trump 'would be worse than Hillary Clinton' With Ryan’s blessing, lawmakers press ahead with tax reform talks MORE (N.Y.), are defending the enforcement parts of the underlying bill.
Reid has called Cornyn’s border-security amendment a “poison pill.”
Despite the occasional salvo this spring, immigration reform is headed for passage in the Senate. That doesn’t mean it will pass. After all, it was a
Democratic “poison pill” amendment that helped kill immigration reform in the George W. Bush administration. But today’s odds are clearly better than 50-50.
House GOP leaders are not going to pass the Senate immigration bill, no matter how it changes through the amendment process. They will look to pass their own legislation and get into a conference committee with the Senate.
There is a bipartisan gang in the House working on immigration reform, but the group has failed to produce a bill. Even if it did, the lower chamber is unlikely to pass one large bill.
Instead, the Judiciary Committee could chop it up into pieces that are easier for conservatives to digest, and try to pass each bit by itself. That would suit the right far better than a bill similar to the Senate measure, which comes in at more than 1,000 pages.
Deadlines are coming into focus. The Senate wants to pass its bill by July 4 and the House would like to clear legislation by the August recess. A final bill could be on President Obama’s desk by the end of 2013.
If it is passed, Obama will have added another landmark bill to his resume. If it falters, 2013 will be viewed as a very disappointing year for the president’s domestic agenda.