Five Democratic senators who support the comprehensive immigration reform bill were pressed Tuesday on a controversial provision that would reportedly create a financial incentive for some employers to hire non-citizens granted legal status over American citizens.
Not one of those five senators were able to address this key concern found in the current bill.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. speaks on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Tuesday, May 21, 2013. Credit: AP
PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 11: U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) (Credit: Getty Images)
Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. (Credit: AP)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 10: Chairman U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) (Credit: Getty Images)
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. (Credit: AP)
Washington Examiner's Phillip Klein explains:
"Under Obamacare, businesses with over 50 workers that employ American citizens without offering them qualifying health insurance could be subject to fines of up to $3,000 per worker. But because newly legalized immigrants wouldn’t be eligible for subsidies on the Obamacare exchanges until after they become citizens – at least 13 years under the Senate bill – businesses could avoid such fines by hiring the new immigrants instead."
So, armed with this information, the Weekly Standard asked five Democratic members of the U.S. Senate about the issue and none of them knew if the bill would create a financial incentive for some employers to hire non-citizens granted legal status over Americans.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) told the Standard that lawmakers were "trying to solve that right now." He added, "I don't know if that's been solved."
More from the Weekly Standard:
"I don't know. I'd have to look at it closely," said Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. "I just haven't read it that closely to know."
Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said he thought the Affordable Care Act's fines would apply no matter what. "I'd have to look at the ACA, but I don't think it distinguishes" between citizens and those on a path to citizenship, Blumenthal said. But then he said he wasn't quite sure. "I mean I'd have to look. You're asking a legal question. It's not an opinion question," Blumenthal added. "I don't recall any distinction in the law. But that's a good question. I'd have to check."
Senator Tom Carper of Delaware said he was too busy to answer the question. "I don't have the time to drill down on it right now," he told me. And Senator Barbara Boxer of California replied with something of a non sequitur before the Senators-only elevator doors closed in my face. "I think if you work for an employer who offers health care, you will get the health care you want," Boxer said. Spokesmen for Senators McCain and Rubio did not reply to a request for comment.
The U.S. Senate last week voted to cut off debate on the bill Monday night – apparently without ensuring there were no significant problems buried in the bill. Some lawmakers complained that they were not given enough time to read the 1,200 page bill.
"And, to clear up any uncertainty," the Standard's John McCormack writes, "The New Republic, Investors' Business Daily, and the Washington Examiner have all reported that the bill certainly does create an incentive for some employers to hire "registered provisional immigrants" instead of U.S. citizens. The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler wrote that the claim is false, but then he updated his article to admit he was wrong."