Amendment fails on party-line vote
By: Caroline May on December 18, 2013 1:07 AM
Senate Republicans were unable to stop military pension cuts when Senate Democrats blocked a vote on an amendment to prevent the cuts by closing a welfare loophole for illegal immigrants Tuesday evening.
The two-year budget deal brokered by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, would cut military pensions by $6 billion over ten years, leaving some Senate Republicans scrambling to stop the cuts.
“Removing this unbalanced treatment of our military retirees ought to be one of the key actions we should take before this legislation moves forward. In fact, greater savings than this can be achieved by passing a legislative fix recommended by the Inspector General of the U.S. Treasury that would stop the IRS from improperly providing tax credits to illegal aliens,” Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions said Monday, announcing his co-sponsorship of Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker’s amendment to restore the military retirement benefits Monday.
Additionally, the Alabama Republican offered his own amendment to restore the cuts by targeting a child tax credit loophole that illegal immigrants have used to unlawfully obtain welfare benefits.
In 2011, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that “individuals who are not authorized to work in the United States” and therefore did not have a valid Social Security number were still able to obtain billions in Additional Child Tax Credits by filing returns with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
Specifically the Internal Revenue Service watchdog found that unauthorized individuals received $4.2 billion refundable credits in Processing Year 2010.
Tuesday evening, Sessions attempted to force Majority Leader Harry Reid allow amendments the budget agreement.
Sessions hoped to attach his amendment to the deal --- which would have closed the loophole by requiring a Social Security number to claim the refundable portion of the child tax credit and restore military retirement benefits.
Sessions’ motion failed on a 46 - 54 party line vote, with North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan crossing the aisle as the lone Democrat to vote with the Republicans.
“Reid's majority just voted to keep pension cut for vets instead of cutting welfare payments to illegal aliens,” a Sessions aide emailed.
Meanwhile, Sessions slammed Reid and Democrats for blocking amendments and ideas that would prevent the cuts to military retirement benefits, including those for disabled retirees.
“Today, Reid and his majority quashed the ability of any Senator to offers amendments to the spending deal that emerged from the House. They voted to undermine their own ability as Senators to offer amendments and do legislative work in the clear light of day,” Sessions said in a statement after his motion was voted down.
“They voted to block the Senate from working to improve this tax-and-spend deal,” he added. “Finally, by blocking my amendment, they voted to cut pensions for wounded warriors. Senators in this chamber have many valid ideas for replacing these pension cuts, including my proposal to close the tax welfare loophole for illegal filers, and all deserved a fair and open hearing. But they were denied.”
Murray argued that adding more amendments would jeopardize the carefully crafted bill and noted that, given the two-year time frame Democrats and Republicans could continue to work together to find savings in the future.
The budget deal, which has already passed in the House, is expected to pass in the Senate Wednesday.