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Morning Examiner: The key amendments to watch at today’s immigration markup

This morning at 9:30 a.m., the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin marking up S. 744, more commonly known as the Schumer-Rubio immigration bill. More than 300 amendments have been filed by both Democrats and Republicans, although far fewer will actually receive votes in committee. Below are three of the most important amendments to watch.

1) Same-sex partners: Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., has offered two amendments that would allow U.S. citizens to sponsor citizenship for their noncitizen same-sex partners. One amendment would allow all same-sex citizens to participate in such a sponsorship, while the other would allow only same-sex partners who live in states that recognize same-sex marriage to make such applications. All four Republican members of the Gang of Eight who helped draft the bill have said they will vote against the bill in final passage if either of these amendments prevail. Will Democrats call their bluff? Will Rubio cave? Or will the Supreme Court make the entire issue moot by overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, and thus functionally adopting Leahy’s second amendment this summer?

2) Fake enforcement: Rubio is already on record saying that the border security measures in the current bill are not strong enough for the full bill to pass the House. So, Rubio is sponsoring a number of amendments designed to fool Republicans into thinking he is strengthening the bill. One amendment would require double fencing along selected sections of the Mexican border. But as Mark Krikorian has pointed out, Congress previously mandated double-fencing along those sections in 2006, and it is still not there. There is no reason to believe this time will be any different.

3) Changes to the guest worker program: The 2007 immigration bill failed when the Chamber of Commerce and unions were unable to come to an agreement on how to manage future flows of low-skilled immigrants. This time around, the Gang of Eight has meticulously planned wage and employment levels for every sector of the economy down to the penny. Republicans will try to upset this balance with amendments to the program. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., tells The Washington Examiner, “The bill’s sponsors have said repeatedly that an immigration bill is not worth passing if it is only going to lead to another influx of illegal immigration and another amnesty down the road. But, in truth, the loopholes in the proposal guarantee that there will be a large continued flow of individuals who illegally enter and remain in the country. One such loophole that has gotten less attention is the guest worker program.” Sessions will introduce amendments to make the guest worker program seasonal instead of full time and will limit their ability to bring family members into the country.

The Republican members of the Gang of Eight have told their Democratic counterparts that the bill must get more conservative, not more liberal, if they want to get more than 60 votes for passage. But Leahy’s insistence on the same-sex couple amendment shows that Democrats think they have the upper hand. If the Democratic majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee makes the bill more liberal, will the Republicans walk away? Or will they cave again?

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National Journal, Inside the American Crossroads and Koch post-mortems: In the wake of big Democratic victories in 2012, the outside groups that raised and spent so much on Republicans’ behalf have spent a considerable amount of time and effort analyzing their performance. Their goals are two-fold: Improve their strategies and tactics in order to win future races, and convince their donors — who provide the funding that keeps the lights on and the television ads blaring — that investing with them is still the right way to go.

Lefty Playbook
Think Progress attacks the Heritage Foundation’s amnesty study by noting that one co-author’s Harvard dissertation asserted, “Hispanic Immigrants Will Have Low-IQ Children.”
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Sarah Kliff reports that Democrats are not selling Obamacare yet because there is nothing to sell.
Harold Meyerson details how unions plan to survive after they’ve failed to win organizing elections.

Righty Playbook
AEI‘s Benjamin Zycher has a new paper showing that state and local tax expenditures don’t work.
Reihan Salam on immigration and IQ.
John Stossel on how Americans are voting for freedom with their feet.