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In The News: Senate Makes Progress on Immigration Bill, But Still More To Do

Friday, June 14, 2013

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Immigration reform is making its way through the Senate, which Majority Leader Harry Reid hopes will be voted on by July 4th weekend. The first hurdle was achieved Monday, June 10th, when the Senate voted 84-15 for cloture, allowing debate to continue on the bill.

Meanwhile, the immigration group in the House of Representatives announced last week that it had reached an agreement, although it lost a member in the process. Representative Labrador (R-ID) backed out after disagreements over the provision of emergency health care services to newly legalized immigrants.

The Senate spent the week discussing various amendments to the bill, some more successful than others. Senator Schumer (D-NY) lobbied against changes to the bill’s proposed security checkmarks that would have to be met before formerly illegal aliens could acquire permanent resident status. Senator Rubio (R-FL), crucial to the Gang of Eight’s GOP members, would require stronger English skills to those seeking to achieve permanent status.

One sticking point appears to be the provision of benefits to same-sex partners who achieve permanent status, included in an amendment by Senator Leahy (D-VT). It is something Senator Rubio considers an acid test for supporting the bill, making it a crucial part to be decided.

House Speaker Boehner (R-OH) provided a timeline for the immigration bill’s passage, sometime before the end of the year - as long the bill doesn't get stuck in the Senate or the House. The Hill reports three paths for the bill in the House once it gets past the Senate. To increase the bill's chances, some senators are looking ahead to the difficulty of passing reform through the House, and as a result, they’re revisiting border security measures with the purpose of gaining bipartisan support in both chambers.