Immigration Reform 2013: Bill Passes Committee, But Will the Full Congress Go For It?

After many months of behind-the-scenes planning and days of debate, the Senate Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration reform bill was passed out of committee Tuesday evening. The bill will now be presented to the full Senate after the Memorial Day recess. 

After considering the final 35 amendments, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13-5 in favor of the bill. Republican Senators Orin Hatch (R-Utah), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) joined the 12 Democrats on the committee. Flake and Graham were part of the Gang of Eight that drafted the bill.

Hatch’s support was solidified today after his amendment dealing with H-1B visas, co-sponsored by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), was accepted. Hatch still has four amendments that require action by the Senate Finance Committee that unless adopted, could jeopardize his support on the Senate floor.

The final amendment offered was presented by Committee Chair Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), dealing with granting same-sex couples equal treatment in immigration sponsorship of non-citizen spouses. This had been anticipated with much speculation that it would be a deal-breaker for Republicans.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) immediately brought that point up. However, after pleas from Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), Schumer, Al Franken (D-Minn.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Leahy withdrew the amendment. The amendment might be brought up during the floor debate, but the likelihood is that it will not be brought up until the Supreme Court rules on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

GOP Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Sessions, and Mike Lee (R-Utah) withheld support in committee, hoping for their concerns to be addressed when the full Senate debates the bill.

Comprehensive immigration reform is one step closer to reality but by no means is it assured. The bill will be further amended during floor debate. The House needs to pass its bill, and then a conference bill would have to be agreed to and passed by both chambers.

When the clerk read the results, the gallery broke out in chant, “Yes we can” and “Si se puede.”

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Douglas Goodman

Retired military and Quality Assurance / Warehouse Operations and Distribution Manager. Have enjoyed politics since the Kennedy/Nixon debates. Besides good political discussions, I've been involved in campaigns at all levels as well as having served on school, city, and county committees and boards. Been called weird because I enjoy reading government legislation and other government rules and regulations.

MORE FROM

Hillary Clinton says Republicans will be the "death party" if they pass health care bill

Hillary Clinton spoke out against the Republican's proposed bill on Twitter.

It's time to redefine the clitoris, according to sex education experts

"Words matter. They shape and mold our ideas and beliefs about our purpose, our bodies, our self-worth and our place in the world around us."

Al-Jazeera becomes a target amid Qatar diplomatic crisis

Gulf states are demanding the broadcaster be shut down.

5 blocks of London apartments to be evacuated over potentially flammable cladding

800 North London apartments will be evacuated following a fire inspection that turned up evidence that the buildings could be unsafe.

Tomi Lahren wants to rally women to her side after criticizing feminists and "pro-choicers"

"My view on abortion is not black-and-white," Lahren said.

These 5 states are drafting laws to limit protests on college campuses

The legislation is intended to protect free speech on campus.

Hillary Clinton says Republicans will be the "death party" if they pass health care bill

Hillary Clinton spoke out against the Republican's proposed bill on Twitter.

It's time to redefine the clitoris, according to sex education experts

"Words matter. They shape and mold our ideas and beliefs about our purpose, our bodies, our self-worth and our place in the world around us."

Al-Jazeera becomes a target amid Qatar diplomatic crisis

Gulf states are demanding the broadcaster be shut down.

5 blocks of London apartments to be evacuated over potentially flammable cladding

800 North London apartments will be evacuated following a fire inspection that turned up evidence that the buildings could be unsafe.

Tomi Lahren wants to rally women to her side after criticizing feminists and "pro-choicers"

"My view on abortion is not black-and-white," Lahren said.

These 5 states are drafting laws to limit protests on college campuses

The legislation is intended to protect free speech on campus.