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Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act--Continued--

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. CORKER. Mr. President, I wish to thank the Senator from Arkansas for his comments. I wish to speak to the amendment and the overall bill that is before us.

I thank the eight Senators who have brought us to this point where we are looking at landmark legislation. I thank all who were involved last night who went through the hurdle of putting in place the strongest border security plan anyone could have imagined.

I don't think anybody can now look at this immigration bill and say we are not doing what the majority of Americans want to see happen; that is, to secure the borders. I thank all involved in making that happen. I know over the last several days that has consumed our discussion--talking about the border being secure. Border security is something I know people in Tennessee and folks all across this country care about.

Again, I appreciate all the contributions that have been made. I thank those who were involved last night in a very strong bipartisan cloture vote. Hopefully, we will have the vote on the amendment soon. I understand there are negotiations underway to add as many as 20 or 30 more amendment opportunities for folks. I hope people will try to narrow down their list.

I cannot imagine how more amendments which can improve the bill is not something we all want to do. I wish to thank those working toward that end. We have plenty of time left this week to deal with a number of important amendments. Candidly, many of them, in my opinion, would make the bill stronger.

Today I wish to speak to two things. No. 1, we talked about security. I, as a Senator, in the 6 1/2 years I have been here, have never had the opportunity to be a part of a piece of legislation that--if passed in both Houses and the President signs it, it becomes law--will immediately affect in a positive way 11 million citizens who are in the shadows today. In many ways, they are already part of our society and will now be able to come out and be even more productive for the United States of America. I am thrilled to have that opportunity.

It now appears this amendment is going to pass, and we will have the opportunity to have a balanced immigration bill. I think the American people are compassionate. I think if they understand that we have done what we can to keep this problem from occurring again in the future and if the people who came here in the way that they came are at the back of the line and have to do those things that are necessary to overcome that before they get their green card and then become citizens, I believe this is a bill that overwhelmingly will be supported by the American people. It gives every single one of us an opportunity to be a part of landmark legislation that immediately is going to affect 11 million people who now are in our country and many more people who come thereafter.

To move away from the human side--and I know we are going to have some budget points of order later--I wish to speak to the economic side, which is a side we have not talked about much.

Another first for me in the Senate is to vote for a bill that, if it passes, is going to bring $157 billion into the Treasury without raising anybody's taxes. Never have I had that opportunity. That is what we will be doing if we pass this legislation with the border security amendment that is now in place.

Over the next 10 years, CBO scores show that we are going to have $157 billion come into the Treasury without raising anybody's taxes because of the fact we are going to have people coming in out of the shadows. Over the next decade, CBO projects we are going to have over $700 billion coming into the Treasury.

I know the Presiding Officer has worked on deficit reduction. This will be the first opportunity we have had to do something such as this that in no way affects people negatively but causes us to have much more in the way of resources. We will have resources coming into the Treasury, lowering deficits, and, candidly, helping seniors who are concerned about whether we are going to be able to maintain momentum with many of the entitlement programs we have today.

CBO has actually scored something else. If this bill passes, real GDP growth is going to be at 3.3 percent over the first decade and 5.4 percent at the end of the second decade. Again, this bill is something that generates economic growth. While both sides of the aisle talked greatly about economic growth, I have to say that my side of the aisle tends to focus more time on that issue, and I applaud that. I think it is very important. I think it is a situation where a rising tide raises all boats, households do even better, and the standard of living increases. What this bill, if passed, is going to do is cause our GDP growth to be even higher over the next two decades.

I know people have talked a little bit about wages. In fairness, there is a study that does say that over the next decade there might be one-tenth of 1 percent effect on wages. What it says is that by the end of the second decade, wage increases are going to grow even more dramatically than they would without this bill.

Productivity is going to increase. CBO has recently scored that productivity is going to be much higher if we pass this piece of legislation. If people come out of the shadows, become more productive citizens, it actually causes us to produce even more goods and services in this Nation.

I think everyone understands that because the people who will be affected by this--the 11 million undocumented workers and people who are in this country--will be paying into the system for 10 years, at a minimum, and will not be allowed to participate in Social Security and Medicare. What they are doing is actually giving additional life to both of those programs--programs that seniors around this country depend on tremendously.

To digress, I know yesterday CBO said that if this amendment we are debating passes, it will have a tremendous impact on lessening the amount of illegal immigration we have in our country, which is something I know almost every American wants to see.

I know there will be some budget points of order. In my life as a Senator, I spent a lot of time on deficit reduction. As a matter of fact, I would put the efforts we have made in my office against almost anybody here. Over the last 6 1/2 years, we have been focused on deficit reduction.

As I said, I have never in my life had an opportunity such as this as a Senator. If we pass this piece of legislation, by sheer force of what is going to happen out in the marketplace and what is going to happen by bringing people in out of the shadows so they can participate in a different way and without raising anybody's taxes--as a matter of fact, maybe it gives them an opportunity to lower people's taxes down the road--we are going to lower our deficit.

I know there will be budget points of order. I plan to vote to override those because I don't think the off-budget items are being counted in the way they should. I think all of us understand that Medicare and Social Security are in distress. Those programs are not being counted in what is going to be discussed later today with these points of order.

I encourage everyone to override these points of order, taking into account the benefits this is going to have on the off-budget items. By the way, typically when we are dealing with these ``off-budget items,'' we are actually dealing with them in the reverse,

and that is that people are not taking into account the negativity that is going to impact them. In this case, there is actually a positive result.

So from a human standpoint, this is the right thing to do. From a border security standpoint, this is the right thing to do. From a deficit-reducing standpoint, this is the right thing to do. And for raising the standard of living for all Americans through economic growth, this is the right thing to do.

I thank the Chair for the time, and I note the absence of a quorum.

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