The Senate bipartisan immigration working group known as the “Gang of Eight” has become two “Gangs of Four,” splitting along party lines over whether health care benefits should be made available to undocumented immigrants. Democrats want to make the benefits available after the illegals obtain a green card; Republicans don’t.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., offered a budget amendment during a marathon Senate session that lasted well into Saturday morning. The amendment would have curtailed Medicaid and Obamacare funding for undocumented immigrants.
The amendment, which cleaved the Gang of Eight in half along party lines, failed in the Senate 43 to 56.
As late as Friday, the Huffington Post reported that the Gang of Eight was close to an immigration deal. The budget amendment vote may throw negotiations into a tailspin.
“The result of today’s vote places immigration reform in jeopardy,” Sessions said Saturday.
Roll Call’s Humberto Sanchez reported:
Immigration reform advocates, including National Council of La Raza, said Friday they would be monitoring what they contend to be any anti-immigrant votes and put members of both parties on notice that their votes would be remembered come election day.
During debate, Sessions argued that illegal immigrants who are given legal status in the future should not be eligible for these health care benefits.
“If a person is in our country illegally and they are rewarded with some legal status, do they then immediately become eligible for federal health care benefits?” Sessions said. “It’s a different situation than someone who came legally and has got legal status.”
Sessions predicted the Senate’s failure to adopt his amendment “will dramatically accelerate the insolvency of our entitlement programs and is unfair to American workers and taxpayers.”
Read more at Roll Call.
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