SOCIAL SECURITY PROTECTION ACT OF 2003 -- (House of Representatives - February 11, 2004)
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Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I intend to vote for H.R. 743, the Social Security Protection Act, because it contains an important provision that was not included in previous versions of this bill. This provision takes a first step toward ensuring that non-citizens who are unauthorized to work in the United States do not receive Social Security benefits. Giving Social Security benefits to illegal immigrants is a slap in the faces of Americans who pay their entire working lives into the Social Security system and now face the possibility that there will be nothing left when it is their turn to retire. This is why, at the beginning of the 108th Congress, I introduced legislation, the Social Security for American Citizens Only Act (H.R. 489), which ensures no non-citizen can receive Social Security benefits. Therefore, I am pleased to see Congress beginning at last to address this issue.
However, I wish to make clear my continued opposition to a provision in the bill that removes the only means by which many widowed Texas public school teachers can receive the same personal Social Security benefits, as does every other American. As I am sure my colleagues are aware, widowed public school employees in Texas, like public employees throughout the nation, have their spousal Social Security benefits reduced if they receive a government pension. The Government Pension Offset even applies if the public employee in question worked all the quarters necessary to qualify for full Social Security benefits either before or after working in the public school system.
The Government Pension Offset punishes people for teaching in public schools. However, current law provides widowed Texas public school teachers a means of collecting a full Social Security spousal benefits. Unfortunately, this bill takes that option away from Texas teachers. I have twice voted against H.R. 743 because of my strong opposition to the provision removing the only way Texas teachers can avoid the Government Pension Offset.
Instead of repealing the only means Texas teachers have of avoiding the Government Pension Offset, Congress should pass H.R. 594, the Social Security Fairness Act that repeals both the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision, another provision that denies public employees full Social Security benefits.
Congress should also be encouraging good people to enter the education profession by passing my Teacher Tax Cut Act (H.R. 613) that provides every teacher with a $1,000 tax credit, as well as my Professional Educators Tax Credit Act (H.R. 614), which provides a $1,000 tax credit to counselors, librarians, and all school personnel.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I will support H.R. 743 because it restricts the ability of illegal immigrants to raid the Social Security Trust Fund. However, I remain opposed to the provision that punishes teachers by denying them Social Security benefits for which they would be eligible if they were not teachers. Instead of punishing teachers, Congress should be enacting pro-teacher legislation, such as the Social Security Fairness Act and the Teacher Tax Cut Act.