Even as President Obama extolled the contributions of gay citizens Thursday, a clash over gay rights on Capitol Hill was threatening to unravel his cherished goal of immigration reform.
Senators headed off a filibuster Tuesday and officially brought the immigration reform bill to the chamber floor, marking the first time since 2007 that the full, thorny issue has been back in front of Congress — and with lawmakers anticipating plenty of hurdles ahead.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy introduced an amendment to the immigration bill Tuesday that would extend immigration benefits to gay partners of American citizens, potentially injecting that contentious issue into the middle of the immigration debate.
After four years of crippling partisan gridlock, which intensified in 2011 when the GOP took control of the House and the Senate remained in Democratic hands, both parties have finally found areas of common ground in Congress.
A Senate committee's failure to tack on an amendment to an immigration bill that grants sponsorship benefits to same-sex couples has left some in the gay community despondent, decrying a nation they feel has abandoned them.
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.