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 LeahyVerizon angling to lower price of Yahoo purchase: report Dem senators call for independent Flynn probe Overnight Cybersecurity: White House does damage control on Flynn | Pressure builds for probe 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 GrahamTrump’s feud with the press in the spotlight Senators eye new sanctions against Iran Republicans play clean up on Trump's foreign policy MORE (R-S.C.) and Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeOvernight Tech: GOP chairman to propose high-skilled visa overhaul | Zuckerberg's 5,700 word letter | Tech lobbies gear up ahead of internet fight Senate Dem blasts GOP for trying to repeal broadband privacy rules Planned Parenthood targets GOP lawmakers amid ObamaCare protests MORE (R-Ariz.) are firm “yes” votes.
Sens. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsAide denies report that Christie has been talking WH role Where Trump’s travel ban stands Top antitrust senators call for Sessions to scrutinize AT&T-Time Warner merger MORE (R-Ala.), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyFlynn told FBI he didn't talk sanctions with Russian envoy: report Gorsuch hearing date set for March 20 Judiciary Committee wants briefing, documents on Flynn resignation MORE (R-Iowa), Mike LeeMike LeeTop antitrust senators call for Sessions to scrutinize AT&T-Time Warner merger Public lands dispute costs Utah a major trade show GOP senators unveil bill to give Congress control of consumer bureau budget MORE (R-Utah) and Ted CruzTed CruzTrump to interview four candidates for national security adviser Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at CPAC Reports: Petraeus off the list, Trump down to three candidates to replace Flynn MORE (R-Texas) are expected to vote “no.”
Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchPublic lands dispute costs Utah a major trade show Overnight Tech: GOP chairman to propose high-skilled visa overhaul | Zuckerberg's 5,700 word letter | Tech lobbies gear up ahead of internet fight Overnight Cybersecurity: Trump vows to punish leakers | Cyber steers clear of tech versus Trump fight MORE (R-Utah) and John CornynJohn CornynRepublicans play clean up on Trump's foreign policy Comey meets Intel senators amid uproar over Trump-Russia ties Corker: Senate GOP discussing best path for Russia probe 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.