The Ryan-Murray budget deal cuts spending by reducing cost of living increases in military pensions. This provision was troubling to Senator Jeff Sessions, who is a spending hawk but thinks there are lots of items in the federal budget that should be cut before veterans’ benefits. As usual, I think Sessions is right.
Harry Reid runs the Senate with an autocratic hand. One of his favorite tricks is called “filling the tree.” Reid will offer a series of amendments to legislation that “fill the tree,” making it impossible for any Republican amendments to be offered. In this way, Reid prevents Republicans from having any input into legislation and spares Democrats from having to vote against popular Republican initiatives.
Today, Reid filled the amendment tree on the Ryan-Murray budget to foreclose further amendments. Sessions wanted to propose an amendment to the spending bill that would delete the veterans’ benefit cuts and replace them by closing a loophole that allows illegal immigrants to suck billions of dollars out of the treasury. Leada Gore explains:
Sen. Jeff Sessions says a plan to cut retirement benefits for military retirees should be replaced with one to ensure billions of dollars of tax credits aren’t paid to illegal immigrants each year. …
Those cuts [to military retirement benefits] could be avoided, Sessions said, by fixing a loophole that allows people in the country illegally to receive IRS payments through the Additional Child Tax Credit.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has called on Congress to close the loophole that allows for average payments of about $1,800, even if the recipient has paid no taxes.
Federal law bars illegal immigrants from collecting tax benefits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit, that can be claimed by residents with Social Security numbers. However, the child tax credit provision does not require a tax return to include a Social Security number, allowing the ACTC to be claimed by illegal immigrants.
According to a 2011 report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, millions of people without valid Social Security numbers received a total of $4.2 billion in ACTC in 2010 – up from $924 million in 2005. The IRS is expected to issue some $7.4 billion in ACTC payouts this year.
In order to allow his amendment to be heard, Sessions offered a tabling amendment to get rid of the filled amendment tree. That would have cleared the way for his amendment to be voted on, but the Democrats closed ranks on behalf of illegal immigrants and defeated Sessions’ motion on a nearly straight party line vote. The only Democrat to vote for the motion was Kay Hagan, who is up for re-election next year and evidently didn’t want to have to explain a “no” vote to her constituents.
Prioritizing illegal aliens over military veterans: that tells you all you need to know about the Democratic Party.