By The Hill Editors - 05/20/13 10:21 PM EDT
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 LeahyJudiciary Dems seek hearing on voting rights Overnight Cybersecurity: Voter data breaches spark fraud concerns Overnight Regulation: FDA campaign targets smoking in LGBT community 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 GrahamStoddard: Can Trump close the deal with the GOP? Dem senator: Trump would leak classified information Never Trump voices face tough decision MORE (R-S.C.) and Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeMany Republicans uninterested in being Trump’s VP: report Senate confirms Obama's long-stalled ambassador to Mexico McCain fundraiser faces felony drug charges in Arizona MORE (R-Ariz.) are firm “yes” votes.
Sens. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsSessions: Ryan made ‘big mistake’ not backing Trump Maine Republican senator suggests she could back Trump Trump snags third House committee chair endorsement MORE (R-Ala.), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyThe Trail 2016: GOP stages of grief Grassley: Trump would pick 'right type' of Supreme Court justice Advocacy group seeks probe into DOD statements on sexual assault MORE (R-Iowa), Mike LeeMike LeeReid: Cruz, Lee on Supreme Court should 'scare you' Cruz: Boehner unleashed his ‘inner Trump’ Senate pressured to take up email privacy bill after overwhelming House vote MORE (R-Utah) and Ted CruzTed CruzPence backs Trump a week after endorsing Cruz Indiana Gov. Mike Pence backs Trump after endorsing Cruz last week Hannity rips 'pathetic' Ryan for snubbing Trump MORE (R-Texas) are expected to vote “no.”
Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchInversion rule: latest example of government overreach Supreme Court wrestles with corruption law IRS: Annual unpaid tax liability was 8B MORE (R-Utah) and 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 (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.