By Elaine Donnelly
Extending sexual misconduct to combat units
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
The Senate Judiciary Committee's 13-5 vote Tuesday to send the immigration bill to the full chamber floor exposed some of the fractures in the coalition but also highlighted surprising resilience and showed just how far Democrats and their interest group allies are willing to go to get a deal done.
The Senate immigration bill cleared the Judiciary Committee on a bipartisan vote Tuesday night, ducking — for now — big fights on guns, gay rights and how broadly the legalization is drawn, and leaving the 867-page overhaul mostly unscathed by conservative attacks.
Senators fended off changes to the immigration bill in committee on Tuesday, but the first cracks emerged in the carefully crafted compromise between business groups and labor unions, leaving even some supporters frustrated at the defensive votes they had to cast.
The immigration "reform" cooked up by the Gang of Eight is finally on the front burner in Congress. The Senate Judiciary Committee will mark up the comprehensive package Thursday, and already it appears the process is doomed to failure, and by design.
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee introduced amendments Tuesday to grant gay couples the same immigration rights as other married couples, setting up a key hurdle for the immigration bill.
Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said the Obama administration should ratchet up its focus on homegrown terrorists and their links to overseas jihadists despite the death of Osama bin Laden, citing the Boston Marathon bombings as a reminder that radicalized Islam is a constant threat.
Sen. Rand Paul said Monday that the immigration reform debate should be halted until Congress first understands what went wrong in Boston, where two brothers who came to the U.S. legally under the asylum program have been accused of the deadly bombings at last week's marathon.
"Behind Closed Doors" was a Grammy-winning country hit for Charlie Rich in the 1970s, describing a good time where no one could see, but it's a terrible way to write laws, particularly laws as complex and controversial as immigration reform.
Apprehensions of illegal immigrants are up 13 percent this year, the chief of the U.S. Border Patrol testified to Congress on Wednesday as lawmakers continued to bash the Obama administration for failing to have a way of measuring how secure the borders are.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a leading voice in the immigration reform debate, sent a strong word of caution Sen. Jeff Sessions' way: Don't "discredit the process" of scheduled Senate talks.
Could police arm drones with tear gas or pepper spray? Will unmanned aircraft someday conduct 24-hour surveillance on American streets? Which arm of the federal government should take the lead in restricting what drones can do and what information they can collect?
Top House leaders said Tuesday they're inching closer to an immigration deal they can bring to the floor for a vote "in the near term," and political momentum continued to build across the Capitol with Sen. Rand Paul adding his voice to those calling for the GOP to take a softer line on illegal immigration.
Senate Democrats pushed the broadest gun ban in decades through the Judiciary Committee on Thursday, voting to halt sales of military-style semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines in what's likely to be the high-water mark for gun control after December's Newtown, Conn., shooting spree.
Sen. Rand Paul said Thursday his 13-hour filibuster was a success after Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. sent a letter saying the Obama administration does not think it is legal to use drones to kill non-combatant Americans on U.S. soil.
The range of gun-related legislation likely to pass the full Senate rounded into shape Wednesday, as lengthy bipartisan negotiations over universal background checks broke down and lawmakers offered a separate measure on mental illness just a day ahead of key committee votes.
"This is not the bill I would have drafted," Mr. Leahy said, though he added that it wouldn't stop him from supporting the compromise. "All of us know our immigration system is not working as it is now, and that is why I will vote for this bill — because of all the work that has gone into this."
The bill dodged a major land mine when the Senate's senior Democrat, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, said he would not force a vote overextending immigration rights to same-sex partners of Americans.