Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Not Quite a Fracture

The Hill suggests that the Gang of 8 "fractured" over the issue of whether to give newly-legalized immigrants access to the earned income tax credit:
Graham and Flake supported an amendment sponsored by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to deny earned income tax credits (EITC) to people with Registered Provisional Immigrant Status (RPI).
An estimated 11 million illegal immigrants would gain RPI status under the immigration reform bill pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Schumer and Durbin voted no.
It failed on a party-line vote of 8 to 10.
“EITC is generally available to anyone who has a Social Security number and many are abusing that today we’ve discovered but as these RPIs are established and get a Social Security number, they will qualify it appears under the law for Earned Income Tax Credit,” Sessions said.
However, as Byron York reports, this might be less a real political fracture and more an orchestrated difference:
The situation was potentially embarrassing for Graham and Flake, who might not want to explain to their constituents that their bill gave federal benefits to newly-legalized immigrants. So it appears that the Gang had met and Democrats had given the two Republicans permission to support Sessions’ amendment. As the clerk was calling the roll for votes (at about 3:05 in the video), Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, the de facto leader of the Gang, was heard turning to an aide and asking, “Do our Republicans have a pass on this one, if they want? Yes.”
They did indeed want. In a somewhat unusual show of Republican unity, Graham and Flake joined other Republicans to vote for the Sessions amendment. It didn’t matter — Democrats have a 10-to-8 majority on the committee and voted unanimously against Sessions’ amendment, meaning it was killed by a 10-to-8 margin. But the moment provided a glimpse of the degree to which Graham and Flake are working with Schumer in maneuvering the Gang of Eight bill through the Judiciary Committee.

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