The Senate Judiciary Committee today rejected an amendment to the Gang of Eight immigration bill that would have prevented illegal immigrants who acheive provisional status under the plan from receiving earned-income tax credits, a major source of federal assistance. In an unusual move, Gang of Eight members Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) voted with their fellow Republicans on the committee to support the amendment, which was defeated ten to eight on party lines. Throughout the amendment process, Flake and Graham have almost always voted with Democrats, including Gang members Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), to block GOP amendments. This time, however, Schumer appears to have given them a “pass” to vote with members of their own party.
In the clip below, Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), who authored the amendment, explains his proposal, and argues that the earned-income tax credit is an example of how the Gang of Eight’s insistence that newly legalized immigrants “will not receive any federal benefits under the bill” does not pass muster. “This would grant such benefits to millions and be a substantial burden on our country’s finances at a time we’re desperately trying to reduce our deficits,” he said.
At the 3:10 mark, Schumer can be seen, and heard, leaning over to ask a member of his staff: “Do our Republicans have a pass on this one if they want?” Apparently they did.
Sessions and other critics of the reform bill have long suspected that the Gang of Eight members would work together to block significant changes to the plan.