The Senate voted down an amendment that would have prevented illegal aliens from receiving taxpayer-funded health care if they are granted legal status in an immigration reform package.
The 43-56 vote — taken during the Senate’s so-called budget vote-o-rama Friday and the early hours of Saturday — split along party lines the “gang of eight” senators currently working on an immigration reform package.
Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, the sponsor of the amendment, said that the vote put “immigration reform in jeopardy.”
“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.” (RELATED: Bombshell documents show Homeland Security department not paying attention to immigrants likely to become welfare dependent)
According to Sessions, the ranking member of the Senate budget committee, the Democratic majority’s vote “will dramatically accelerate the insolvency of our entitlement programs and is unfair to American workers and taxpayers.”
The amendment would specifically have prohibited illegal immigrants who gain legal status from accessing health care in the form of Medicaid or Obamacare.
Republican “gang” members — Sens. Marco Rubio, John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Sen. Jeff Flake — all voted in favor of the amendment. Democratic members of the gang of eight — Sens. Dick Durbin, Charles Schumer, Bob Menendez and Michael Bennet — voted against it.
Menendez said that the amendment is unnecessary, because any new immigration package would need to be voted on in the Senate, according to a Roll Call report.
He reportedly added that the amendment could get in the way of current bipartisan immigration negotiations.
“The last thing we need to do in this budget process is to try muck that up,” Menendez said, according to Roll Call. “This is not a great way to try to do your out reach to the Hispanic and immigrant community.”