House Blocks Bill on Jobless Benefits Measure Got Entangled in Dispute over Welfare for Immigrants

Article excerpt

The House voted overwhelmingly Thursday night to block a bill that would have extended benefits for unemployed workers. The measure had become entangled with the question of providing welfare to immigrants.

On a 274-149 procedural vote, House members stunned Democratic leaders by preventing the bill from coming to the floor for consideration. The action in effect forces the leadership to resubmit the legislation today and to add a provision reducing payments to blind, disabled and elderly immigrants. The savings would be used to give unemployed Americans five more weeks of compensation.

Almost all the House Republicans and about half the Democrats voted to block the bill.

Rep. Bill Archer, R-Texas, summed up the debate when he called upon his House colleagues to put "Americans and taxpayers first," rather than choosing "welfare for aliens over unemployed American workers."

The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill., said, "There is no place to find revenue, and I think we're all going to have to start understanding . . . the cupboard is bare."

Rostenkowski's committee initially approved a bill that changed the terms under which legal immigrants could get welfare benefits available to the blind, disabled and elderly. …


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