Is Senate’s Amnesty Bill on Deathbed?

I wanted to make sure you saw this article from National Journal: Rubio’s Right.  The Gang Is Far From a Supermajority on Immigration.  The skepticism mirrors that of outlets like BuzzFeed, which described the bill’s coalition as “fragile.”  In that same article, a Republican supporter discussed the bill’s “tenuous balance.”

More from National Journal’s Chris Frates:

Chuck Schumer is predicting the Senate will overwhelmingly pass comprehensive immigration reform before July 4. Marco Rubio says the bill doesn’t even have the 60 votes it needs to pass.

And as of today, Rubio’s right.

Granted, the Senate overwhelmingly voted Tuesday to begin debating the Gang of Eight’s immigration overhaul – 84-15. But that was expected, and it’s just the start. There is nowhere near as much agreement on the reform bill itself.

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Sen. Sessions on Who Wrote (And Understands) Amnesty Bill: Special Interest Groups and Their Lawyers

During the Senate debate Tuesday of the Gang of Eight amnesty bill, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) explained that even the Gang of Eight – the group of lawmakers who supposedly devised the legislation – doesn’t truly understand the complex and confusing content of the bill:

Union groups, special interest groups, agricultural groups, business groups, meat-packers groups, and the immigration lawyers association wrote the bill.

They know what the impacts of this bill are, Sen. Sessions explained, but the Gang of Eight has not read the 1,000 page bill, and they do not truly understand the implications.

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Amnesty: Problematic Before and After the 13 Year Mark

As the Washington Examiner recently pointed out, the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill fails to resolve a very pressing problem.  “The bill,” they state, “would effectively encourage employers to hire newly legalized immigrants over American citizens as a way of avoiding Obamacare’s taxes.”

This problem would last for roughly 13 years when the illegal population who had been granted amnesty would be able to obtain full citizenship.

They explain:

Under the existing Senate immigration bill, immigrants who have been in the United States illegally can obtain a provisional legal status after paying fines and meeting certain preconditions. But this population would have to wait at least 13 years to be able to obtain full citizenship, and it isn’t until then that they could qualify for government benefits such as Obamacare.

The problem arises when this rule interacts with another provision of Obamacare – the employer mandate. Starting in January, businesses with 50 or more employees who don’t offer workers health insurance that the federal government deems acceptable must pay a penalty if at least one of their workers obtains insurance on a new government-run exchange. The penalty is up to $3,000 per worker.

Thus, amnesty incentivizes employers to hire immigrant workers rather than face hundreds of thousands of dollars in Obamacare fines for the next 13 years.

Heritage has explained that the situation bodes no better for Americans after the 13-year mark – the point at which most of the illegal immigrants who had been granted amnesty could become citizens:

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Sen. Lee Compares Gang of Eight Amnesty Bill to Obamacare

Today, the Senate continued to debate the Gang of Eight amnesty bill on the floor.  After listing the large number of amendments that were rejected in committee that could have greatly improved the legislation, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) explained that the Gang of Eight bill “does not secure the border; it doesn’t build a fence; it doesn’t create a workable biometric entry, exist system for immigrants to this country.”

He added, “What standards and metrics the bill does set, the bill simultaneously grants the secretary of Homeland Security broad discretion to waive.”

Many critics compare the Gang bill to the failed 1986 bill.  But Sen. Lee made a more frightening comparison, and one that we should all be able to relate to today:

The gang bill reminds me of a more recent piece of legislation, Obamacare.  Like the president’s healthcare law the Gang bill was negotiated in secret by insiders and special interests who then essentially offered it to Congress as a single take it or leave it proposition.  It grants broad new power to the same executive branch that today is mired in scandal for incompetence and abuse of power.  Total cost estimates are in the trillions according to some, and rather than fix our current immigration problems, the bill makes many of them worse.  However well intentioned, the Gang of Eight bill is just an immigration version of Obamacare.


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Sen. Grassley Warns Against Repeating the Mistake of the 1986 Amnesty

During the immigration debate in the Senate Monday, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) warned that the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill will produce the same results as the 1986 amnesty.  He admonished against repeating the mistakes of the past.

The bill was debated in committee, and Sen. Grassley said there was good discussion to improve the bill.  However, he added:

I was disappointed that alliances were made to ensure that nothing passed that would make substantial changes or improvements in the bill.  Many of those same people gave high praise to the amendments being offered, but continued to vote against them.

He said the 1986 legislation “failed the American people” and that Congress “screwed up.”

He said:

At that time, promises were made, and those promises were not kept.  We said it was a onetime fix, just like the [Gang] of Eight says they have a onetime fix.  But that onetime fix did nothing to solve the problem.  In fact it only made matters worse and encouraged illegality.   People came forward for legal status, but many more illegally entered or overstayed their welcome to get the same benefits and chance at citizenship.

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