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The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a markup session on the immigration reform legislation in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill May 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. The comprehensive bill heads to the Senate floor in June. Meanwhile, debate over immigration reform in the House could go in different directions.
It's been two days since the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a landmark comprehensive immigration reform bill, which cleared the committee by a 13-5 vote pretty much intact.
Meanwhile, the House is working on its own comprehensive plan, but that process hasn't gone smoothly. What happens next? The simple answer would be "we wait," but it's better to wait with details. Here are a few takes on where reform plans in Congress are headed:
House disagreements: The long-awaited House immigration reform effort hit more obstacles this week, in spite of an announcement last week that a deal had been struck in principle and a self-imposed deadline to have an agreement in place this week.
There's been partisan discord over issues like border security and the E-Verify work authorization program, but especially over health care. The biggest stumbling block: whether immigrants who obtain provisional legal status should have access to government-aided health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, which bars unauthorized immigrants from participating.
A banner calling for immigration reform during the May, 1 2013 May Day rally in downtown Los Angeles. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a comprehensive immigration bill this week, while the House has promised its own bill soon.
Immigration reform: A step forward in Senate, a step back in House? - Christian Science Monitor While a comprehensive immigration reform bill cleared a Senate committee this week, the House may not meet its self-imposed deadline to file its own version. House lawmakers are apparently stuck on how immigrants who legalize their status may have access to medical care under the Obama administration's health care reform law.
Immigration reform bill moves on without amendments some advocates had hoped for - Southern California Public Radio Gay and lesbian advocates are upset over a Senate committee yielding to what they describe a "poison pill" argument that granting immigration rights to same-sex couples would have doomed the Senate immigration bill. Asian Americans had hoped an amendment preserving certain family visa categories would have made it into the bill.
Members of LGBT groups march on Broadway during the May 1, 2013 May Day immigrant rights march in Los Angeles. An amendment to the Senate immigration reform bill that would have allowed gay and lesbian U.S. citizens to sponsor a same-sex spouse for an immigrant visa was withdrawn.
When the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a comprehensive immigration reform bill by a 13 to 5 vote Tuesday, it did so without a couple of controversial amendments: One would have extended immigration rights to same-sex couples, and another would have preserved two categories of immigrant visas that stand to be cut.
The most controversial amendment was brought up at the end of Tuesday's negotiations, a proposal from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) that would have allowed gay and lesbian U.S. citizens to sponsor a same-sex spouse on an immigrant visa. As it stands now, federal law only allows straight married couples to do so.
While many on the Senate committee voiced support, they also said they feared the amendment might torpedo the bill. It was eventually withdrawn.
Gay and lesbian advocates say they're upset that senators bought into what they describe as a "poison pill" argument from opponents.
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(L-R) Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) (back to camera), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) debate during a markup session for the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill this week. Approved by the committee Tuesday, the bill now heads to the Senate floor.
Senate panel approves immigration bill - Associated Press After five amendment hearings, the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform plan passed a 13-5 committee vote and is on its way to the Senate floor. Some of the more controversial amendments came up at the end, including a withdrawn proposal that would have extended immigration rights to same-sex couples.
Immigration bill to hit Senate floor in June - U.S. News and World Report The Senate bill survived amendment markup sessions with its core intact: a path to legal status for unauthorized immigrants, and ways to regulate the future flow of immigrants and non-immigrant workers, both high- and low-skilled. The full Senate will now take up the bill in June.
Gay groups denounce lack of protection in Senate immigration bill - Washington Post Gay and lesbian advocates are upset over the Senate Judiciary Committee's lack of support for an amendment that would have allowed U.S. citizens in same-sex marriages to petition an immigrant spouse, as straight married couples can. The amendment was withdrawn at the end of Tuesday's final committee debate.
Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC
Heliodoro Cardenas, 25, right, and his father-in-law Felipe Ortiz, both of Montebello, at the May 1, 2013 May Day immigration rally in downtown Los Angeles. The current immigrant visa system relies heavily on family ties, but the Senate immigration reform bill suggests a shift away from this.
UPDATE: After debating amendments on provisions ranging from border security to high-skilled worker visas, the Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a comprehensive immigration bill by a 13-5 vote. The bill now moves to the Senate floor.
On Tuesday, the fifth day of amendment hearings, committee members dug into some of the more controversial issues: immigration rights for same-sex couples, changes to the family visa system, and whether immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally should have a path to citizenship.
Earlier in the day, an amendment from Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas that would have barred unauthorized immigrants from obtaining U.S. citizenship was struck down. Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii introduced only a few of her amendments pertaining to family-sponsored visas.