Sen. Flake 'Open' to Amendments to Close Immigration Bill Welfare Loophole

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) would support an amendment to the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill to close the loophole allowing illegal immigrants access to state and local welfare benefits, his spokeswoman told Breitbart News on Tuesday afternoon.

Flake’s spokeswoman, Genevieve Rozansky, acknowledged the existence of the bill’s state and local welfare loopholes for illegal immigrants. She told Breitbart News her boss would support an amendment that closes that loophole if another Senate office comes up with an idea to do so.

“The goal of the Gang of 8 bill is to not reward those who broke the law,” Rozansky wrote in an email. “It clearly prevents those with a provisional status from receiving federal benefits, but if other senators have ideas about how to prevent them from receiving state or local benefits that is consistent with the principle of federalism, Senator Flake would certainly be open to such an amendment.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, uncovered the loophole and called on members of the Gang of Eight to either propose or support amendments to their bill that would close it.

“This is just one more example of the legislation not living up the commitments that were made,” Sessions said in a statement to Breitbart News. “However, this bill has been described as a starting point and so I hope the Gang’s members will propose or support amendments to address the legislation’s enormous federal costs and to ensure that illegal immigrants will not become dependent on already-burdened state and local benefit programs.”

In an exclusive Breitbart News report on Tuesday, Sessions and his staff detailed the major loophole through which illegal immigrants could immediately access state and local welfare programs. This was in addition to other loopholes through which some illegal immigrants could access federal benefits sooner than the Gang of Eight has publicly stated they would be able to get them.

Representatives for the other three offices of the Republican members of the Gang of Eight—those of Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), John McCain (R-AZ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC)—have not responded to Breitbart News when asked if they would also support such an amendment closing those loopholes. As a general matter, Rubio has said he supports fixing problems like this in the legislation.

During an interview on Tuesday on the Mike Gallagher radio program, Rubio again made the point that he wants to include ideas and amendments to fix the bill’s problems. “I understand how things have been done in the past in Washington, where they come up with a bill in a room and then they basically tell everybody, ‘Here’s the solution. Take it or leave it,’” Rubio said on the show, a quote his office distributed to press on Tuesday. 

That’s never what I signed up for. On the contrary, the way I think you’re supposed to make public policy in this country is you file a bill as a starting point, but you don’t pretend you have all the answers to every question, and then you get input from others. Now, what I have suggested to those who have problems with some component of the bill is, you know, maybe you have a very valid point. In fact I’ve heard some valid objections. Let’s try to fix it. Let’s try to change it, but to just say let’s defeat the whole thing, I don’t think that’s a productive approach either. I think this is a starting point that obviously we can and should improve.

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