House Passes HEROES Act Amnesty
By Preston Huennekens | FAIR Take | May 2020
The battle for the Phase IV coronavirus bill is officially on, as House Democrats laid out their demands by passing H.R. 6800 — the HEROES Act by a vote of 208-199. This FAIR-opposed bill would grant a de facto amnesty to illegal aliens working in “essential” industries, give them stimulus checks, release nearly everyone detained by ICE, and expand some forms of legal immigration.
This follows a pattern established during the Phase III coronavirus stimulus debate which eventually produced the $2 trillion bipartisan CARES Act. The final version of the CARES Act was devoid of any troubling immigration provisions, which infuriated some progressive House Democrats. Soon after passing the CARES Act, scores of House Democrats demanded that the next round of funding (Phase IV) include illegal aliens.
On the House floor Friday, Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) introduced a motion-to-recommit (MTR), a legislative tool that allows the minority party to force a vote on a proposed change to the bill at hand. Rep. Riggleman’s MTR would strip out the provisions allowing illegal aliens to receive stimulus payments. Rep. Riggleman noted that “hidden amongst these poison pills is a provision that will change the ID requirement for the CARES Act rebate checks from Social Security number to the taxpayer identification number. This switch will allow illegal immigrants and non-citizens to get checks they aren’t eligible for. I didn’t think a global pandemic meant it was time to stop helping American citizens who are desperate for assistance. Now, more than ever, we need to make sure these rebate checks go to Americans who need it.”
The MTR failed, but not without 13 Democrats joining their Republican colleagues in voting to strip this provision out of the HEROES Act. The 208 representatives who voted to keep it included – all Democrats – made it clear that they support giving billions of dollars in stimulus money to illegal aliens, rather than spending it on other needed reforms or priorities of the American people.
Nevertheless, the HEROES Act has no chance of becoming law. The GOP-controlled Senate will ignore this bill. But the HEROES Act is an important marker of the House Democrats’ priorities and particularly those of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) who holds tremendous negotiating power opposite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the White House. The HEROES Act will not become law, but the House will want the final bill to include at least some provisions from this initial ask.
During CARES Act negotiations, the Senate’s GOP leadership stripped the House’s immigration demands out of the final product. The question becomes this: how hard will Speaker Pelosi fight for the HEROES Act’s immigration provisions in the final Phase IV stimulus bill? Alternatively, how hard will Leader McConnell fight to keep these sections out? Fortunately, White House advisor Peter Navarro stated that stimulus checks to illegal aliens is unacceptable to the President. FAIR will continue fighting to keep amnesty and open borders provisions out of the final bill.