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Public Statements

Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act--Motion to Proceed--Resumed

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, Senator Sessions and I come to the Senate floor today to discuss the Child Tax Credit Integrity Preservation Act, the bill I introduced last year, to address a real problem with IRS enforcement allowing illegal aliens to access the additional child tax credit.

The reality is, because of this enforcement problem and this loophole in terms of how the child tax credit is enforced, illegal aliens who pay no taxes and are not entitled to this check from the government received $4.2 billion in 2010 alone. These are checks from the government through the Child Tax Credit Act.

There have been several studies under the President Obama administration that say this is ridiculous, this is unintended, we need to stop this. I am proposing we do and that we move forward in a simple, bipartisan, commonsense way to stop it. Let me briefly note some of those studies.

In March of 2009, the Treasury Department said:

As it now stands, the payment of Federal funds through this tax benefit appears to provide an additional incentive for aliens to enter, reside, and work in the United States without authorization, which contradicts Federal law and policy to remove such incentives.

In July 2011, the Treasury Department, through its inspector general, issued a report that was actually entitled ``Individuals Who Are Not Authorized to Work in the United States Were Paid $4.2 Billion in Refundable Credits.''

So, again, under this administration the Treasury Department and the IRS underscore that this is a huge problem to the tune of $4.2 billion every year.

I urge all of us to come together in a straightforward, commonsense, bipartisan way to fix this problem. The IRS and the Treasury Department have told us that the fix is simple, and it is clear. We simply need to mandate that folks applying for the credit use valid Social Security numbers. That will cut off the fraud, and that will cut off $4.2 billion going improperly to illegal alien families. It will not cut off the benefit going to anyone who deserves it under the law.

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Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, before the distinguished majority leader has to leave, I would just ask, through the Chair, if we can get some clarification and hopefully come to some consensus, is he suggesting that illegal aliens in the country should continue to receive the credit? Is he suggesting that citizens who qualify for the credit but happen to live outside the country should not get it?
It seems to me the problem is illegal aliens receiving the credit, wherever they are physically, not the people outside the country who are receiving the credit, some of whom qualify for the credit.

If I could bring that point up through the Chair.

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Mr. VITTER. I would say, through the Chair, thank you for that clarification. We have exactly the same goal in mind, and I believe this approach of the Vitter bill--the House has already passed this approach recently, and its budget outline actually accomplishes that. By requiring a valid Social Security number, we allow everyone who truly qualifies for the credit to get it, and we stop it from going to illegal alien families who do not deserve the credit under the law.

I invite my distinguished colleague from Alabama to add to the discussion.

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Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, if I could respond through the Chair.

I absolutely agree with the Senator from Alabama. Too often folks in Washington want to make things overly complicated. Some issues debated in the Congress are complicated. Other issues are not complicated, but they are made a whole lot more complicated than they need to be made, and this is one of those.

All we are saying is folks who qualify for this benefit under the law should get it, but folks who don't qualify, including illegal alien families, should absolutely not get it. The law is clear on that. What we have is an enforcement problem. We also have the Obama administration, through the Treasury Department, absolutely agreeing that this is an enforcement problem and that this bill is the legitimate and proper solution.

Again, in March 2009 the Treasury said:

As it now stands, the payment of Federal funds through this tax benefit appears to provide an additional incentive for aliens to enter, reside, and work in the United States without authorization. .....

That means it is a magnet to draw more illegal crossings into the country.

Again, in July 2007, the Treasury inspector general had a whole report, and the title was ``Individuals Who Are Not Authorized to Work in the United States Were Paid $4.2 Billion in Refundable Credits.'' That inspector general said what we need is fixed legislation just like this.

In fact, this is what we do with regard to the earned-income tax credit. We require a valid Social Security number for that separate tax credit. We are simply applying that valid fix to this different tax credit.

Again, let's not make a pretty straightforward situation difficult. Let's fix a glaring problem. As the Senator from Alabama said, it is a $4.2 billion-a-year problem. We come to the floor every day to talk about soaring deficits and debt, to talk about impending cuts in defense and other areas, and yet we have this glaring $4.2 billion savings that we are not taking advantage of.

The House has acted. The House recently acted and passed exactly this provision. Let's act in a bipartisan, commonsense way in the Senate and tell the American people we are going to stop wasting $4.2 billion a year for this completely unauthorized purpose.

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Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, I wish to thank very much my colleague from Alabama for his leadership on the Budget Committee and his leadership on issues such as this. I want to encourage the distinguished majority leader to look at the actual details of the problem and this legislation. When he does, he will see that this legislation is very finely tuned to the actual problem, and it is an outrageous problem.

There has been quite a bit of media attention on this abuse over the last several months. A lot of it came out of Indiana. A tax preparer there brought cases in Indiana and said he got no response from the IRS when he tried to report completely fraudulent returns using fake income and documents. He pointed to a number of actual tax forms in which illegal aliens were exploiting this. He said: ``I can bring out stacks and stacks. It is just so easy, it is ridiculous.''

An illegal alien who was actually interviewed admitted in another case that his address was used by four other illegal aliens who didn't even live there. All told, they claimed 20 children were living in one trailer, and they received checks from the government through this program totaling over $29,000. Only one child was ever observed at that mobile home. Twenty other children who live in Mexico have never even visited the United States.

Again, let's not make a simple fix overly complicated because it is not. This is an outrageous abuse. The Obama administration Treasury Department has said so. They have endorsed this fix. The House has passed this fix. Let us in the Senate pass this fix on a bipartisan basis and save the American taxpayer $4.2 billion each and every year.

With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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