This vote was on a motion to kill an amendment by Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., that would extend through 2014 a voluntary program known as E-Verify. The Internet-based E-Verify programs intended to help employers determine whether their employees are legally entitled to work inside America. The amendment was offered to the bill that funds most domestic agencies in fiscal 2009.
Sessions said the program is important because it allows employers to input an applicant's Social Security number into a Web-based application, which will immediately return whether or not that number is valid. He said the program will expire soon and wants it to be extended.
"This amendment simply will extend the authorization for the E-Verify system for 5 years. On this current bill, it will be extended only for 6 months. I ask why we would not make it a more extended period of time unless we have doubts about it, unless we don’t like it, unless we are looking for a way to eliminate it," Sessions said.
Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., made the motion to kill Sessions' amendment, saying the underlying bill already includes a one-year extension of the E-Verify program. He also said Sessions has refused to support extending a program known as the EB-5 Regional Center Program unless Congress also simultaneously extends the E-Verify program. The EB-5 program fast-tracks visa applications for investors who put a minimum of $1 million into a new commercial enterprise that creates jobs in America.
"Much to the detriment of the economic benefits created by the EB-5 program, such as capital investments and new jobs in American communities, the Senator from Alabama and others have refused to pass an EB-5 extension without simultaneously extending the E-Verify Program. I believe they should both be extended. While I have no objection to reauthorizing the E-Verify Program for a longer term, so long as it remains voluntary and free of mandates, I cannot vote for one that leaves the EB-5 program behind," Leahy said.
By a vote of 50-47, the motion was agreed to. Every Republican present voted against the motion. Of Democrats present, 48 voted for the motion and 7 voted against it. The end result is that the motion carried, and as a result an amendment that would have extended a program to help employers verify Social Security numbers was defeated.