GOP senators press ‘Gang of 8’ members on welfare costs for newly legalized immigrants

In the note, the Republicans note that a vote on an amendment proposed by Sessions that would have prohibited newly legalized immigrants from accessing Obamacare or Medicaid split the “gang” along party lines.

“The rejection of that principle by the Democrat members of your group during a vote on an amendment to the budget raises significant concern,” the three senators wrote. “Moreover, even if the bill does contain strong, loophole-free language to this effect, it will only succeed in delaying — not reducing—the cost to taxpayers. In addition, a work requirement as a condition of amnesty would do little to nothing to protect taxpayers over the long term.”

Republican staffers on the Senate Budget Committee have estimated that the cost of Medicaid and Obamacare alone could be $40 billion in 2022 and that the long-term unfunded liability for Obamacare could increase by nearly $2 trillion.

Grassley, Sessions and Roberts pointed out that once the newly legalized population obtains their green cards, a large menu of welfare programs will be available to them, which could present “enormous” additional costs.

“Once the present illegal population receives green cards, they will be eligible under current law for a wide array of federal welfare programs including food stamps, Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Medicaid,” they wrote.

They added that the costs could continue to increase as the newly legalized population retires and begins to draw Social Security and Medicare benefits “in excess of what they paid into those programs.”

With their concerns in mind, the three senators requested the gang seek a Congressional Budget Office estimate of the long-term costs of legalization prior to any vote in committee or on the Senate floor.

Additionally the three requested a list of all federal benefits programs that will be denied during immigrants’ probationary status, a list of federal benefits and programs they will be eligible for once they obtain a green card or permanent residency and cost estimates for various ten-year windows of the process.

They also ask to see the language in the legislation pertaining to enforcement of the public charge rule, and the potential increase in cost to unfunded obligations that could result from a pathway to citizenship.

The letter requests that all this information be made available before the legislation is unveiled.

This story has been updated to include comment from a Rubio spokesman.

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