The House Judiciary Committee passed Chairman Lamar Smith's Legal Workforce Act on Wednesday afternoon 22-to-13. Only two amendments were approved by the committee, including one offered by Chairman Smith himself. The bill, H.R.2885, would require all employers to use E-Verify within 2 years for all non-agricultural new hires, while requiring federal, state and local agencies to check current employees as well within 6 months.
Chairman Smith's amendment cleaned up some technical language in the bill. Another amendment, offered by Democrat Rep. Howard Berman, proposed the elimination of a clause that exempted farmers from E-Verifying seasonal workers who have worked for them in the past. The amendment narrowly passed with Republicans Steve King, Jim Sensenbrenner, Louie Gohmert, Ted Poe, and Elton Gallegly voting with the Democrats.
A "poison pill" amendment was offered by Rep. Zoe Lofgren that attempted to strike Section 6 that preempts state-passed E-Verify mandates while allowing the states to retain their authority over business licensing. The amendment was an attempt to divide the Republicans and kill the bill's chances of reaching the floor, but narrowly failed 16-to-18.