Immigration Issue Threatens 9/11 Bill

Devlin Barrett
The Wall Street Journal
4/28/2010

WASHINGTON—The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is threatening to block a health-care bill for post-9/11 recovery workers if it bars illegal immigrants from treatment.

New York Democratic Reps. Jose Serrano and Nydia Velazquez have warned fellow lawmakers—including the bill’s chief backer, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat representing Manhattan—that the caucus could pull support for the bill.

The legislation, which is awaiting review by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, would provide about $5 billion over 10 years in health care and treatment for tens of thousands of people who suffered health problems after working at the site of the collapsed World Trade Center or living nearby.

In March, an Energy and Commerce subcommittee voted down an amendment from Rep. Steve Buyer (R., Ind.) that would have barred the government from paying for health services for illegal immigrants under the measure.

The Hispanic lawmakers said Republicans could try to raise the issue again. They are warning Democrats to fight off another potential amendment or lose their support. That would be a big setback for Mrs. Maloney and others who have spent years trying to pass such a bill.

Ms. Velazquez heads the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which has 22 other House members. The Sept. 11 health-care bill has never enjoyed overwhelming support in Congress, and the Hispanic lawmakers’ votes could make the difference between passage and failure.

The article continues at WSJ.

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