Where Immigration Reform is as of May 31, 2013
Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee sent the immigration bill on to the full Senate for a floor vote. The full Senate plans to start work during the week of June 10. The Senate will probably pass the immigration bill not before it goes through a process on the floor. The big question is whether bill will pass with 60 out of 100 votes mostly along party lines, or will it get the 70 votes that will send a strong message to the House of Representatives of the level of bi-partisan support that the bill has. Another question is whether there will be further amendments to the bill.
On the other side, “the House Gang of 8” announced that they had reached an agreement and would soon present their version of the Immigration Reform bill. The major unknowns are whether their bill will be presented in a piecemeal fashion, leaving contentious parts of reform, like a pathway to citizenship, off the table for now. The House immigration negotiators have been struggling to come to bipartisan consensus. At issue is whether undocumented immigrants on a pathway to citizenship would be eligible for health care subsidies from the affordable care act. Another high-profile issue is whether the bill will allow for immigration benefits for same-sex partners, which didn’t make it into the Senate bill. While both the health care and the same-sex issues are immensely important, it does not appear that these will stop comprehensive immigration reform.
The Senate will do much of their work before the July 4 recess, which means that by July the House leadership will have clarity on how its caucus is reacting to what has been drawn up by the Senate. That’s when conference committees, made up of Senate and House members would come together to look at the totality of legislation before them. President Obama said immigration reform should get done by the end of summer. But it is much more likely that it will be in the Fall.
Stay tuned for further updates.
Written by: Roberto Gonzalez