- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Senate yesterday rejected an effort to block its immigration-reform bill because of concerns by some senators that the proposal to grant citizenship rights to about 10 million illegal aliens would cost federal taxpayers more than $50 billion.

“I have grave concerns with the effects of this bill on the future of our country, not the least of which is its potential fiscal impact,”said Sen. Wayne Allard, the Colorado Republican who raised a budgetary point of order yesterday to block the bill because of its costs. “The fiscal impact can be summed up in two words: ‘budget buster.’”

An analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the bill would increase federal spending by $54 billion in the next 10 years. Those costs would rise by more than $5 billion in each subsequent decade for 50 years after that.

“Now, isn’t this how we get in trouble?” Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, asked his colleagues moments before they voted 67-31 to waive the budget rules. “Isn’t this how spending gets out of control?” The final floor vote on the bill is expected today.

Three Democrats — Sens. Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia and Ben Nelson of Nebraska — joined 28 Republicans to try blocking the bill on spending concerns, but they fell 10 votes short of the 41 needed to succeed.

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, accused Mr. Allard and Mr. Sessions of using budget concerns as an excuse to kill the legislation.

“We have voted several times over the past week and a half to affirm the intent of this body to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill,” Mr. McCain said before voting to waive the rules. “It’s clear to me that the senators from Colorado and Alabama are not nearly as interested at saving money in our budget as they are to sink the bill.”

Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican and co-author of the Senate bill, said the legislation would be an overall boon to the economy.

“What happens when people go to work? What happens when people invest in communities?” he said before voting to waive the budget rules. “Well, what happens is there are more tax revenues, there’s more employment, there are more opportunities, there’s better education, higher standard of living, more consumer spending. That’s what happens, and that’s what we’re talking about in this immigration reform bill.”

Mr. McCain said the bill would generate $66 billion for the federal government because of increased tax revenues and fees over the next decade, so there is a “possibility” of a $12 billion surplus.

Mr. Sessions said he is even more alarmed by the anticipated costs of the bill after the first 10-year period, the only period analyzed by the budget office. Costs explode in the 11th year, he said, because that is when the current illegal population would begin becoming citizens.

“You become entitled to all the benefits that our country can give you in the 11th year, including you have the right to bring in your aging parents,” he said.

Moments before voting to block the bill, Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican who has sharply criticized free spending by Congress, lamented that he and his allies probably wouldn’t muster the votes needed.

“But the American people should know even if they agree with everything that’s in this bill, that they’re transferring again a lowered standard of living, less opportunity and less future to the Americans that are here today by passing that bill,” he said.

The Senate also turned back an amendment by Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, to require citizens to present photo identification before voting in federal elections.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide