Senate Immigration Bill Passes Out of Judiciary Committee

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bipartisan “gang of eight” immigration bill on Tuesday.

A Senate panel has finally approved legislation in a 13 to 5 votes thus giving providing a direct path to millions of illegal immigrants and setting up a debate next month in the full Senate over the biggest changes in immigration policy in a generation. Photo: Anuska Sampedro/Flickr

All Democrats on the committee, along with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and gang of eight Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), voted on passing the bill, which will now be directed to the Senate floor.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who didn’t approve the passed bill, said he would support allowing it to move forward for debate – rather than joining a filibuster – once on the Senate floor.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who was against the bill out of committee, revealed to reporters if it had been between his vote and moving the bill to the Senate floor, he would have voted in favor writes The Huffington Post.

The crowd in the room erupted into applause when the results of the voting were announced, rising to their feet and chanting “Yes we can!” then “Si se puede!”

Democrats seemed equally pleased to vote the bill out of committee.

“The dysfunction in our current immigration system affects all of us and it is long past time for reform,” Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said before the bill’s passage.

“I hope that our history, our values, and our decency can inspire us finally to take action. We need an immigration system that lives up to American values and helps write the next great chapter in American history by reinvigorating our economy and enriching our communities.”

President Barack Obama, who has made enactment of an immigration bill one of his top priorities for 2014, welcomed the Senate Judiciary Committee’s decision, saying the bill was consistent with the goals he has expressed, writes Reuters.

“I encourage the full Senate to bring this bipartisan bill to the floor at the earliest possible opportunity and remain hopeful that the amendment process will lead to further improvements,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House.

The bill came after month of moderation and discussion of the gang of eight, which in addition to Graham and Flake includes Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).

The passed immigration bill includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, a streamlined legal immigration process, tougher interior enforcement and increased border security.

Now the bill is directed to the Senate floor, where gang of eight members are hopeful it will pass. Schumer and McCain, who is not included in the Judiciary Committee, have said they would like to win over a majority of both parties – around 70 votes in total.

By the way, Obama’s rival for the presidency during the elections 2012, Mitt Romney won less than 30 percent of the Hispanic-American vote, spurring Republican party leaders to quickly pivot and call for passing comprehensive immigration legislation.

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