The Senate Judiciary Committee gave final approval Tuesday to a sweeping immigration reform bill, setting up a debate on the Senate floor anticipated for the second week in June.
The bill would create a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, invest billions in new border security measures and overhaul the legal immigration system. It would also phase out the existing H-2A program over a two-year period replacing it with a new multi-year agricultural guest worker program.
The landmark legislation passed the committee by a bipartisan vote, giving comprehensive immigration reform its best chance in six years on the Senate floor. The vote to report the bill from the Senate Judiciary Committee came after five days of debate and consideration of more than 200 amendments. However, the "Gang of Eight," who drafted the underlying legislation, held together as they agreed and fended off all but minor changes to the bill.
House leaders want their members to put forward their own version of immigration reform, which may come in the form of several pieces of immigration related legislation. A bipartisan group of House negotiators announced an agreement last week on reform principles, but the lawmakers are struggling to finalize the deal.