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Is an Immigration Turf War Brewing?

When the Senate Judiciary Committee resumes work Tuesday on an immigration overhaul, senators will jump ahead a few hundred pages.

“After reviewing the remaining amendments that Members may wish to offer, and consulting with Ranking Member [Charles E.] Grassley, I have decided the best path forward is to move next to Title IV of the bill,” Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., said in a May 10 statement.

When the Judiciary panel finished work on May 9, senators had completed the first title. Senate aides say the move to jump ahead is motivated by the need to work through some details of attempts to amend the second title in ways that touch on jurisdiction of the Finance Committee.

Amendments include changes to Medicaid eligibility and requirements for immigrants to pay back taxes. The Finance panel has responsibility for those and other policy areas.

Judiciary spokeswoman Jessica Brady confirmed the need to discuss matters with the Finance Committee leadership.

“Senator Leahy looked at the hundreds of amendments filed to the four titles of the bill and after closing out Title I, decided to move to Title IV while he works with the chairman of the Finance Committee regarding the jurisdictional issues of some amendments relevant to Title II,” Brady wrote in an email.

A GOP aide said that Finance and Judiciary staff were set to meet on Monday afternoon to work through the questions. There’s been no public announcement of formal objections.

As of Monday, there was no evidence that Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., planned to mount a procedural fight over the bill. Likewise, Democratic Sen. Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs chairman, has largely deferred, noting that a referral to his panel would require unanimous consent. Carper has said, however, that there are changes he would like to see as the bill moves forward.

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