Schumer is ‘committed’ to a same-sex immigration amendment

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Sen. Chuck Schumer was uncharacteristically shy last week when asked about a controversial amendment to his big immigration bill which would include certain provisions recognizing same-sex couples.

"No comment," he repeated to Politico, a few times.

This morning, Schumer was slightly more expansive.

"Well, look, I believe in that amendment strongly and I'm committed to work as hard as I can to get it done," he said, when I asked if he was concerned that Sen. Patrick Leahy would propose the amendment during next week's committee mark-up. "Obviously as you've seen in today's paper, there are people who feel strongly on the other side. And we'll have to see how that plays out."

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Schumer has reportedly apologized to LGBT groups for not including the provisions in the big compromise negotiated by the "gang of eight," whose Republican members have come out strongly against the amendment.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has made a "virtual guarantee" that the bill won't pass with the amendment, which would allow permanent partners in same-sex relationships to apply for green cards.

Leahy seems to think Republicans are bluffing, and that the bill would pass, even with the amendment.

But passage in the Senate isn't the final goal; Schumer has previously said he hopes to get 70 votes for the bill, including a majority of Republican senators, in order to send it to the Republican-controlled House with some bipartisan momentum.

Even without the same-sex amendment, passage in the House is far from certain. Rubio said yesterday that the Senate version was unlikely to survive the House intact, and Schumer conceded today that some modifications might be required.

"Look obviously the House, as Republican leadership, is more conservative than the Senate, we don't expect the exact bill that we pass will meet the favor of everybody in the House," Schumer said. "Now our goal, I think the quickest and easiest thing to do--should we pass a bill in the Senate with a majority of Democrats and a large number, hopefully a majority of Republicans, would be for the House to pass our bill. If not, obviously we'll see what changes they make.

"But there are certain bottom lines we're not going to allow. For instance, if they were to say that there's no path to citizenship or no assured path to citizenship, we wouldn't go along with that."

One option Schumer definitively ruled out was breaking the compromise down into individual bills to suit particular interest groups.

"Piecemeal is dead," Schumer said. "It never works, and it's an excuse by people who want to say they're doing something about immigration but not really doing it.