After the public controversy that ensued after Pres. Obama's health care speech to a joint session of Congress, the White House sent around an email to reporters clarifying the administration's stance on health care benefits to illegal aliens. Although, the administration supports a verification mechanism to ensure no illegal alien receives benefits, the issue could be irrelevant with an amnesty.
The House's health care proposal (H.R.3200) does not contain a verification mechanism, and verification has been voted down twice during committee markups. But the Obama Administration vows it will not sign a bill unless verification is included. So, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who chairs the Senate Finance Committee and was given the task of drawing up a bi-partisan health care bill, included verification in his first mark of the bill.
But the issue of health care reform and illegal aliens would become moot if Congress and Pres. Obama drew up legislation that would amnesty the country's 11-18 million illegal aliens. Last week, the president spoke at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's annual gala...
Even though I do not believe we can extend coverage to those who are here illegally, I also don't simply believe we can simply ignore the fact that our immigration system is broken. That's why I strongly support making sure folks who are here legally have access to affordable, quality health insurance under this plan, just like everybody else. And we certainly should not let this debate on health care -- one so essential to Hispanic Americans and all Americans -- get sidetracked by those looking to exploit divisions and kill reform at any cost. That's what they always try to do.
Reports on a time line for an amnesty bill in Congress have been mixed. Senate Immigration Subcommittee Chair Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said over the summer that he hoped to have a proposal for amnesty after the summer recess, but he's since said he'll delay his proposal while the Senate focuses on health care reform.
During his media blitz over the weekend, Pres. Obama told Univision that amnesty is still a legislative priority, but he offered no time frame.
Whether that bill gets introduced on November 15th or December 15th or January 15th, that's not really the issue. I mean, it would be easy for us to get a bill introduced. The challenge is getting the bill passed. And there I've been realistic. What I said is that this is going to be a tough fight and that we're going to have to make sure that we are working as hard as we can to do it. I am not backing off one minute from getting this done, but let's face it, I've had a few things to do.
Immigration reform is gonna be tough as well, but I think we can get it done.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has also been out spreading the word on amnesty. During a speech last week at New Mexico State University, Napolitano said that "comprehensive immigration reform" was one of the president's top priorities after health care reform.