‘Gang of Eight’ immigration reform bill advances in the Senate

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Sausage makerIt has often been said that people do not want to see the "sausage making" process of legislation, and nowhere is that a truer statement than with the "Gang of Eight" immigration reform bill.

After multiple attempts by Tea Party senators to add "poison pill" amendments to kill the bill — all defeated — there was a death-defying friendly amendment offered yesterday by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to treat gay partners equally under federal law for immigration purposes. Tea-Publicans howled that this was a deal breaker, and Sen. Leahy eventually withdrew his amendment.

Of course, Advocates
were outraged at lack of LGBT protection in immigration bill
. This is a timing problem. This bill needs to move forward in the Senate now. The U.S. Supreme Court is not expected to rule on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) until June. Should the Court strike down DOMA, as most court observers anticipate, it would remove the obstacle to treating gay partners equally under federal law. The immigration bill will still be going through the "sausage making" process, and may be amended to respond to any Supreme Court ruling. Patience and perseverance are virtues in the "sausage making" process.

So it is good news that the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved its final mark-up of the comprehensive immigration reform bill on a vote of 13 to 5. Senate
panel approves sweeping immigration reform bill
:

After five days of debate over dozens of amendments, the Judiciary
Committee voted 13 to 5 in support of the bill, with three Republicans
joining the committee’s 10 Democrats. The legislation emerged with its
core provisions largely intact, including new visa programs for
high-tech and low-skilled workers and new investments in strengthening
border control.

“The dysfunction in our current immigration system affects all of us
and it is long past time for reform. I hope that our history, our
values, and our decency can inspire us finally to take action,”
committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said. “We need an
immigration system that lives up to American values and helps write the
next great chapter in American history by reinvigorating our economy and
enriching our communities.”

President Obama, who has made
immigration reform his top second-term priority, issued a statement
praising the committee for approving a bill that is “largely consistent”
with the principles he had outlined.

“None of the committee
members got everything they wanted, and neither did I,” Obama said, “but
in the end, we all owe it to the American people to get the best
possible result over the finish line.”

The comprehensive bill is now headed to the full Senate, where Minority
Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urged fellow Republicans on Tuesday not
to block the bill from a floor vote
. The Congressional Budget Office
will take two weeks to issue an assessment of the fiscal cost of the
bill, so Democratic aides said the floor debate could begin around June
10
.

[The U.S. Supreme Court will issue its final decisions and orders of the 2013 term on June 17 and June 24 (subject to change). The Senate may still be debating this bill.]

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) succeeded in obtaining an amendment to relax some restrictions on high-tech
companies that seek to hire foreign engineers and computer programmers. The compromise amendment lifts the requirement that companies first
offer tech jobs to Americans for all firms except those that depend on
foreigners for more than 15 percent of their workforce and relaxes the
formula for determining the annual number of foreign high-tech workers. The Hatch amendment is opposed by organized labor on the left.

On the right, the Tea Party is still trying to kill the immigration reform bill. Can
Tea Party conservatives kill immigration reform?
:

[A]nti-immigration conservatives haven’t given up the fight. This
morning, a coalition of 150 conservatives — which includes Rich Lowry of
the National Review, Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum, Redstate.com
editor Eric Erickson, and former Florida Representative Alan West — issued a letter declaring their absolute opposition to the comprehensive immigration bill, and urging Senate Republicans to scrap the entire project.

“No matter how well-intentioned, the Schumer-Rubio bill suffers from
fundamental design flaws that make it unsalvageable,” the letter says.
“Many of us support various parts of the legislation, but the overall
package is so unsatisfactory that the Senate would do better to start
over from scratch.”

Their main complaints echo the line introduced by the Heritage Foundation [in its discredited report.]

* * *

Of course, the factual claims of the letter are irrelevant. What matters
is that a key part of the Republican Party has announced its
categorical opposition to comprehensive immigration reform
, which
diminishes its chance for passage. Unless supporters can get
overwhelming support in the Senate — enough to break a filibuster, and
then some — then it’s unlikely they’ll force John Boehner to act. And if
he does, he’ll still have to deal with the consequences of an unhappy
conservative opposition.

The Washington Post has a Summary of the provisions in the bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

h/t for graphic www.thesacredpage.com

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