Debate begins Tuesday on the comprehensive immigration reform bill, which will be the largest overhaul of the US immigration system since at least 1986 or 1990, possibly even 1965, which created the modern immigration system.
Right now, between 52 and 54 Democrats are expected to support the bill, while four or five Republicans are confirmed supporters. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has been one of the leading champions of the bill, but he has recently been stating that he would vote against the bill without changes to the border security section, one of the four main pillars of the bill. Amending the bill to include these changes could destroy the coalition, making it impossible for most Democrats to support the bill, which would classify that amendment as a “poison pill.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has been drafting the likely amendment, and he was a YES vote on the bill in one important test vote, while a NO on another, making him a key person to watch during the debate. Failure to adopt his amendment could drive away the 10-20 Republicans who could end up supporting the bill and are right now noncommittal. However, questions remain about how sincere their support is in getting a bill passed.
For the next week or two, while negotiations over this amendment carry on at the staff and Member level, public debate will drag on and minor amendments will be voted on. Expect the vote on this amendment to be one of the major do-or-die points the bill must survive in the next two to three weeks.