What: All Issues : Aid to Less Advantaged People, at Home & Abroad : Immigrants : HR 2669. (Student loans reconciliation) Procedural question on whether to require proof of legal residency in order for naturalized citizens to claim certain work time for the purposes of Social Security/On the motion (2007 senate Roll Call 263)
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HR 2669. (Student loans reconciliation) Procedural question on whether to require proof of legal residency in order for naturalized citizens to claim certain work time for the purposes of Social Security/On the motion
senate Roll Call 263     Jul 19, 2007
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on whether to allow an amendment by John Ensign, R-Nev., that would have required that naturalized American citizens who want time spent working in America to count toward determining their Social Security benefits prove that they were authorized to work inside the country during that time period. Ensign said this will help prevent people who were in the country illegally, but have since been naturalized, from claiming the time prior to their naturalization for Social Security purposes.

Ensign said his amendment would help combat identity theft by discouraging illegal immigrants from using others' Social Security numbers. "My amendment denies Social Security benefits for illegal, fraud-based work. It also ensures an individual who is on a visa overstay, or someone who has a card in their name but is working here illegally will not get credit for that illegal work," Ensign said.

Earlier, Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., had offered an amendment to Ensign's amendment that would have have expressly prohibited illegal immigrants from qualifying for Social Security benefits. It also would also have changed the enforcement focus of Ensign's amendment from those who have been naturalized, to those who are currently in the country illegally.

"Unfortunately, whether intended or not, the Ensign amendment would threaten the Social Security benefits of millions of Americans. It makes no sense. We need to focus the Attorney General on those who are here illegally, and make it very clear that no one who is here illegally can receive Social Security benefits, period," Stabenow said.

However, Ensign successfully used a procedural maneuver to kill Stabenow's amendment as not related (or "germane") enough to the underlying student loan bill.

Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., then used the same procedural maneuver to try to kill Ensign's amendment as not germane to the underlying bill. In some cases, when portions of a bill violate certain congressional rules, the bill can be quickly defeated with these procedural motions unless the Senate votes to waive the rule in question. One of these Senate rules requires that amendments be related to the subject of the bill itself. When Kennedy moved to have the amendment defeated on the grounds that it was not "germane" enough to the underlying bill, Ensign called a vote on waiving that Senate rule for his amendment, which is what this vote was on.

Though 57 voted for waiving the rules and 40 voted against it, this particular type of vote requires a three-fifths majority of the Senate (60 votes) in order for it to be considered approved. All but four Republicans voted for the waiver motion. More Democrats voted against the waiver motion (including the most progressive senators), though 13 voted for it. The waiver vote was unsuccessful, thus Ensign's amendment that would have required proof of legal residency in order for naturalized citizens to claim certain work time for the purposes of Social Security was killed by the procedural motion.

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