Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah has been in the upper chamber since 1977. Along the way, he has seen a few immigration bills pass, and more than a few fail. This time around, he’s optimistic about the Gang of Eight’s bill, and after weeks of deliberations, he’s leaning toward backing it. “I would like to support it,” he says, in an interview at his office.
“We’ve had a lot of input on the current bill, as it’s formulated. Not only a number of amendments, but I also helped work out the guest-worker part,” Hatch explains, citing his work to expand the provision for H1-B visas. “That goes a long way toward having me support it,” he says.
Before he fully commits to an aye vote, Hatch is trying to integrate a series of amendments. One would require illegal immigrants to pay back taxes; another would limit their access to a tax subsidy for health care. But he acknowledges that they’re unlikely to pass.
At the eleventh hour, Hatch says Democrats would be wise to consider a few more Republican amendments. “We’ve got to have an overwhelming vote over here, in order for the House to feel the pressure to pass a bill,” he says.
And if the Senate passes a bill with broad bipartisan support, Hatch doubts Speaker John Boehner would campaign against it. “I don’t t think he’s going to get caught up in technicalities,” such as the Hastert Rule, Hatch says. “Hopefully we can get this bill in such a form that Republicans can support it in the House. But it needs some more work, there’s no doubt about that.”