Tech companies are fiercely lobbying for the Senate Judiciary Committee to adopt Hatch's amendments and believe they would address their concerns with that section of the bill. The tech industry contends the current form of the bill includes new requirements that could make it difficult for them to fill open positions with top foreign talent.
The amendments are similar to a bill that Hatch offered earlier this year on high-skilled immigration reform, which Rubio co-sponsored.
Hatch's amendments have faced pushback from Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinDems rip Trump administration for revoking Obama's transgender directive A guide to the committees: Senate McConnell: I’m very sympathetic to 'Dreamers' MORE (D-Ill.), a vocal critic of the H-1B program and member of the Gang of Eight. During the Senate Judiciary panel's markup of the bill on Tuesday, Durbin argued that the new H-1B requirements in the immigration measure are meant to protect American workers.
Hatch is currently in discussions with Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerDean: Schumer's endorsement 'kiss of death' for Ellison How the candidates for DNC chair stack up ahead of Saturday's vote DNC candidate Harrison drops out, backs Perez for chairman MORE (D-N.Y.) to try to find a compromise on his amendments so they can be adopted into the immigration bill. Adding these amendments to the bill is seen as key to winning Hatch's support for the comprehensive measure.
Hatch and Schumer were still engaged in negotiations on the package of amendments and ironing out some remaining sticking points as of Wednesday afternoon, according to a Hatch spokesman.
The Utah Republican may put those amendments up for a vote when the Senate Judiciary Committee resumes its markup of the bill on Thursday, but observers say that no final decision has been made yet.
Rubio declined to answer whether a compromise on Hatch's amendments would disturb the balance struck by the Gang of Eight and upset Durbin.
"I'm not going to deal in hypotheticals. Let's try to see how far we can go and how many people we can get on board," Rubio said. "This is not just about counting heads or counting votes. This is about creating a program for the high-tech industry and for all the business community that's good for the American economy."
"We want to make sure that whatever we come up with is something that the business community is excited about, that they're going to use, otherwise, why have it? But we also want to be fair to the American worker, so it's a difficult balance."