Judiciary Committee passes Gang of Eight bill, 13-5

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who does not serve on the panel but is a crucial player in wooing fellow conservatives to support the bill, similarly praised the committee but noted that “work still remains to be done.”

“Immigration reform will not become law unless we can earn the confidence of the American people that we are solving our immigration problems once and for all,” he said, adding that he is “optimistic” that the bill can be satisfactorily improved on the Senate floor. 

On Tuesday, the top Republican in the upper chamber affirmed that he will not block the immigration proposal from being debated by the full Senate.

“I think the Gang of Eight has made a substantial contribution in moving the issue forward,” Sen. Mitch McConnell told reporters. “I’m told that the Judiciary Committee hasn’t in any fundamental way undone the agreements that were agreed by the eight senators, so I’m hopeful we can get a bill that we can pass here in the Senate.”

In an emotional moment shortly before final passage, committee chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont announced that he would not call for a vote on an amendment that would have recognized the marriages of same-sex spouses in immigration law.