Senate Committee Advances Immigration Reform In Bipartisan Vote

(Source: CSPAN)

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a comprehensive immigration reform bill that will provide a path to citizenship for the nation’s 11.1 million undocumented immigrants, passing the measure in a vote of 13 to 5. Three Republicans — Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — joined the Democrats on the panel to support the legislation after considering 200 amendments over five days.

The vote came following an emotional debate over a pro-LGBT provision that would have recognized, for purposes of immigration, married same-sex couples. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) withdrew the amendement after Republican senators, including members of the so-called Gang of 8, signaled that they would abandon the underlining bill if it was included. “If you redefine marriage for immigration purposes [by the amendment], the bill would fall apart because the coalition would fall apart,” Graham said. “It would be a bridge too far.”

“I do not believe we should ask Americans to choose between the love of their life and love of their country,” Leahy explained. “So, with a heavy heart, and as a result of my conclusion that Republicans will kill this vital legislation if this anti-discrimination amendment is added, I will withhold calling for a vote on it at this time.”

The full Senate is expected to debate the bill on the floor next month. Earlier on Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pledged to “vote for the motion to proceed so we can get on the bill and see if it we’re able to pass a bill that actually moves the ball in the right direction.”