Today as the world was distracted with the Supreme Court decisions on DOMA and Prop 8, the Senate approved a $46 billion plan to increase border safety as part of S. 744 or the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill.
The bill is sponsored by the controversial "Gang of 8," and includes bill author Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado), and Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois).
The newest amendment to the bill, the Corker-Hoeven amendment, increases the budget of the immigration reform bill to $46 Billion to ensure funding for among other things, 700 miles of reinforced, double-layered fencing, the hiring of enough U.S. border agents to double our current amount (to total around 40,000), and surveillance systems that include, "fixed, mobile, and agent portable surveillance systems...unarmed, unmanned aerial systems."
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) the ranking Republican in the Senate Budgetary Committee expressed some real concerns of the cost of the bill saying that with the U.S. deficit what it is, America cannot continue to spend Social Security surpluses when people need their retirement money:
This is the true cost of this immigration bill. I am the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee. We wrestle with these numbers all the time. Under this, they claim they have a unified budget surplus of $197 billion. That is the accounting method where all the money coming in is counted against all the money going out. But if you remove the Social Security surplus, that is $211 billion. If you remove the Medicare surplus, that is $56 billion, showing, instead of having a surplus, we have a $70 billion deficit.... These sponsors of the bill, so desperate to promote their bill and say it is paid for, say that Social Security payment, that FICA payment, is now available for them to spend over here on all the things they want to spend the money on; therefore, it has created a surplus. But it ignores something very important: that each one of those individuals who have paid into Medicare, paid into Social Security, are going to draw out Medicare and Social Security. It is their money. It is their retirement money. You cannot put the money up for their retirement and spend it the same day and expect it to be there.
The immigration reform bill is one of the most important issues on the government's agenda and we look forward to seeing how it progresses.