(Photo: REUTERS/Mike Theiler)
The Senate voted 43 to 56 against an amendment to the budget resolution this past weekend that would have prevented illegal immigrants from receiving Medicaid or Obamacare benefits if they qualify to receive a green card or are granted legal status under the immigration reform plan.
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and ranking member of the Budget Committee, introduced the amendment, which was voted down and split along party lines for the "gang of eight" senators who are working on a bipartisan immigration reform plan.
"The core legal and economic principle of immigration is that those seeking admission to a new country must be self-sufficient and contribute to the economic health of the nation," Sessions said in a statement. "But, for years, the federal government has failed to enforce this law. This principle is even more urgent when dealing with those who have illegally entered the country."
He continued: "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? It's a different situation than someone who came legally and has got legal status."
According to Sessions, the Democratic majority's vote "will dramatically accelerate the insolvency of our entitlement programs and is unfair to American workers and taxpayers."
The Senate budget passed at 5 a.m. on Saturday, by a 50 to 49 vote.
Sessions said that the results of Saturday's vote "places immigration reform in jeopardy," and added that he's baffled by his Democratic colleagues use of the term "balanced approach" regarding the budget, because their budget "increases taxes, increases spending, and adds $7.3 trillion to our debt. It has zero real deficit reduction."
In a statement released Monday, Sessions added: "Look at Washington, D.C. No city in America relies more on the federal government than Washington. Despite this fountain of federal funds, one in three children still live in poverty in our nation's capital. Two in three children live in single parent homes."
"The massive debt we have racked up to finance our wasteful government is pulling down growth today," Session said. "Gross debt over 90 percent of GDP weakens growth now. Not tomorrow – now."
He continued: "In other words, the more money we borrow to mail out government checks, the more and more people there are that will need government checks. This is why we can no longer define compassion as borrow-and-spend. Our goal should be to help more Americans find jobs, better wages, and to achieve financial independence."
Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, disagrees with Sen. Sessions' assertion and believes the budget plan is "responsible" and "puts economic growth and the middle class first."
In a statement, Murray said the Senate budget will save 750,000 jobs this year, and "cuts spending responsibly by $975 billion … And matches those responsible spending cuts with $975 billion in new revenue, which is raised by closing loopholes and cutting unfair spending in the tax code for those who need it the least."
Murray adds that she will work with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee "to make some compromises, and get to the balanced and bipartisan deal the American people expect and deserve."
Members of the gang of eight who are working on a Senate immigration reform plan, which is expected to be introduced mid- to late-April, at the earliest, include: Republican Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.), who all voted in favor of Sessions' amendment. Democratic members of the gang of eight, all who voted against Sen. Sessions' amendment, include: Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Bob Menendez (N.J.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.).