Senate Democrat says he cannot support military pension fix that closes illegal immigrant welfare loophole

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Despite initially saying he would support Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s fix to halt cuts to military pensions, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin said Tuesday he cannot support her bill because it achieves savings by closing a welfare loophole.

Levin said earlier Tuesday that he would support the bill sponsored by New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, however an aide told The Hill that Levin offered his support before he understood how the bill would offset the cost of the pension cuts.

“Sen. Levin would support legislation to repeal the military pension cuts if such an amendment didn’t endanger underlying legislation and if he supported the offset,” the aide told The Hill. “He doesn’t support the offset in Sen. Ayotte’s legislation, so he couldn’t offer support for her legislation.”

Ayotte’s bill would repeal the military pension cuts and replace the savings by requiring tax filers to have a Social Security number —- as opposed to just an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number — in order to qualify for the ACTC.

According to a 2011 Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report, people who were not authorized to work in the United States claimed billions in refundable tax credits in 2010.

“My legislation is just one approach that would easily replace these unfair cuts,” Ayotte said last month. “With the Congressional Budget Office estimating that the federal government will spend $47 trillion over the next decade, the notion that we can’t find $6 billion from somewhere else is absolutely ridiculous.”

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions too has pushed for the fix, both during debate over the budget and in a recent letter to appropriators, working on their omnibus-spending package.

“In the Senate I proposed a replacement, procedurally blocked by the Senate Majority, which I believe could attract bipartisan support,” Sessions in December. “This replacement would restore the $6 billion [over ten years] to military pensions by instituting a reform proposed by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.”

Earlier Tuesday Levin, told reporters that his committee expects to hold hearing on the matter soon, hopefully before spring, according to The Hill.

“I’ll vote for it, but what I want to do is focus on a hearing in case it doesn’t work that way,” The Hill quoted Levin. “The main problem is that it was singled out, and how you can overcome that problem without a greater entitlement reform is one of the issues which someone needs to address in testimony.”

There is similar repeal and replace bill led by Alabama Republican Rep. Martha Roby and Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick in the House.

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