FAIR LEGISLATIVE UPDATE MARCH 29, 2010 Senate. blocks Senator Sessions Final Attempt to Fix Immigration Loopholes in Health Care Bill

In the final round of the year-long health care debate, the Senate took up the House’s reconciliation bill last Sunday. H.R. 4782, the “Health Care and Education Affordability and Reconciliation Act,” amends the original Senate bill with “fixes” the House has negotiated with the Senate over the past several weeks. The Senate passed the bill by a 56-43 vote, and although many changes were made, lawmakers failed to fix the major immigration-related problems despite the efforts of true immigration reformers. (The Associated Press, March 26, 2010).

Senate Republicans offered dozens of amendments to the reconciliation bill, but each proposal was rejected. FAIR worked with Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) on an amendment that would significantly improve the immigration policy reflected in the bill. Last Thursday, Sessions introduced the amendment (Amendment 3701), which would ensure that Americans are not required to pay for the health benefits for illegal aliens by requiring the use of an effective eligibility verification system. The amendment would do two things:

  • It would require the use of a meaningful and effective verification system to ensure that illegal aliens will not be able to access taxpayer-funded tax subsidies created by the bill;
  • It would maintain the 5-year waiting period in current law so that immigrants must pay into the system before they are able to receive taxpayer-funded health benefits. The 5-year waiting period is critical because it embodies the principle that immigrants should not become a public charge – or burden – to the American people.

The Senate ultimately chose not to close the significant immigration policy loopholes in the health care reconciliation bill by rejecting the Sessions amendment by a vote of 55 – 43. (Vote #95, March 25, 2010).

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