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Providing For Consideration Of H.R. 2, Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act Of 2009

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 2, CHILDREN'S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2009 -- (House of Representatives - January 14, 2009)

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Mr. SCALISE. Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to the rule that we're discussing right now which prevents any amendments from being brought forward on this legislation. The reason that I've got some real concerns is that, Number 1, there's a big change in current policy that allows for verification of identity and of citizenship that's in current SCHIP law.

What this bill does, H.R. 2 actually deviates very dramatically from that current law. It changes the legislation and takes away any ability for us to verify the citizenship of people that would be eligible for SCHIP.

What that means to the average American people out there is that the taxpayers who will be footing this bill will be having to pay for illegal aliens that will now be able to get benefits under this bill that, under current law, they're not able to get because there is a verification process. Why would the leadership want to take away that verification process, opening the door for fraud and abuse?

We know there will be fraud and abuse if this bill becomes law without the amendment that I brought forward last night that would change and revert back to current law. The current law allows for the verification and identification of citizenship. This bill takes that away.

The Congressional Budget Office actually estimates that this change, the change in H.R. 2 that we'll be voting on later on, will cost the taxpayers up to $5 billion in illegal aliens being able to get SCHIP benefits that, under current law, are not able to get it because there is a verification process. We need to put that verification process back in place to make sure that the hardworking taxpayers out there, especially during these tough economic times, as people are paying those taxes to fund this program, what kind of message does it send to them, many of whom have no insurance of their own, that they're going to have to pay $5 billion of their hard-earned money, so that illegal aliens can now be eligible; not eligible necessarily under the law, because the law at least acknowledges that illegals shouldn't be able to get the money. But the verification has been taken away in this bill.

Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Madam Speaker, I am very pleased at this time to yield 1 minute to the distinguished majority leader of the Democratic Caucus, Mr. Hoyer, my good friend.

Mr. HOYER. I must say, following the last speaker, I think the last speaker is absolutely wrong. I think he misrepresented very substantially the facts of this bill, which strengthens verification.

This administration, the Bush administration, will tell you that, and the governors will tell you that the current verification system is not working, and that, in fact, we strengthen, in this bill, the verification. And of course, although he made it clear that illegal immigrants are not included and are very specifically not included, this bill will make it easier and more facilitate ensuring that objective than the present law.

Mr. SCALISE. Would the gentleman yield?

Mr. HOYER. Very briefly.

Mr. SCALISE. The elimination of section 211 is what I was referring to, and that's the section that even the Congressional Budget Office estimates, by removing that verification process, would open the door to about $5 billion of people who are illegal aliens now being eligible because that verification is taken away.

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