With the immigration reform bill passing through the Senate Judiciary Committee largely intact, the bill will next head to the full Senate for debate, and ultimately a vote.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York anticipates that the bill will pass the Senate as early as July 4. He also expects to garner as much as 70 votes, which would include all 50 Senate Democrats as well as nearly half of Senate Republicans.
The amount of Senate Republican support for the bill will be crucial if the bill is to eventually pass the Conservative-leaning House of Representatives as well.
The bill will be facing a tough task ahead when it hits the Senate floor early next week, with many controversial issues set to come to the forefront.
Aside from immigration reform, the gun control debate has been one of the most hotly debated topics facing the U.S., with several recent mass shootings occurring from Colorado to Connecticut.
Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal is expected to offer a set of amendments, one aimed at banning certain immigrants from buying firearms and another requiring Homeland Security officials to be notified if undocumented immigrants or visa holders try to buy firearms.
Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, who was also the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tried desperately during the markup process to introduce amendments extending immigration rights to gay partners of U.S. citizens, but was unsuccessful. Republicans had threatened to abandon immigration reform entirely if such provisions were included.
This polarizing issue is sure to come up again during the Senate floor debate, though it’s unclear as of yet if Leahy will try once again to introduce this topic.
Back Taxes and Benefits, Border Security, Guest Workers
Other key issues that will be discussed next week include back taxes and benefits, border security concerns and how the guest worker program will work. Gang of Eight member Marco Rubio has been quite vocal about border security concerns in recent weeks and has been casting doubt as to whether or not the bill can pass the Senate as it is currently constituted.
The immigration reform debate is far from over. There is still much left to debate in the Senate as well as in the House of Representatives.
We must continue to keep the pressure on our elected officials during this pivotal time.