Legislative Update for Week Ending February 20, 2015

Legislative Update for Week Ending February 20, 2015

This week, the implementation of President Obama’s recent immigration orders was halted by a federal court ruling. In addition, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) announced its support for one new piece of legislation.

Federal Court Halts Implementation of Immigration Orders

On Monday, President Obama’s November immigration orders – which TSCL’s members and supporters overwhelmingly oppose according to recent poll results – were temporarily halted by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Texas. Judge Hanen did not rule on the legality of the President’s orders on Tuesday – the lawsuit is expected to take many months to complete. Instead, he issued a 123-page temporary injunction on the grounds that President Obama’s orders did not go through the proper procedures, which require public notices and comment periods. Judge Hanen wrote: “This is not the end of the inquiry; in fact, in this case, it is really the tip of the iceberg.”

Shortly after the ruling was issued, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said his department would not begin accepting applications for the deferred deportation program on Wednesday as scheduled. The program would have allowed an estimated 330,000 illegal immigrants to apply for work permits and deportation deferrals. Secretary Johnson also said the administration will suspend May plans to begin accepting deferred deportation requests from the parents of U.S. citizens. In total, the two programs would have delayed the deportation of more than 4 million illegal immigrants.

Lawmakers in Washington had mixed reactions to Judge Hanen’s injunction. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (TX) said, “Today’s victory is an important one, but the fight to reverse the President’s unconstitutional overreach is not over. The President must respect the rule of law and fully obey the court’s ruling.” Meanwhile, Representative Luis Gutierrez (IL-4) called the injunction a simple “bump in the road.” He stated: “The administration intends to take this to the highest court in the nation, where we know justice and fairness will prevail on this executive order.”

The Obama administration will decide soon whether to appeal Monday’s injunction to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. In the meantime, TSCL will keep a close eye on the immigration discussions since the President’s recent orders could result in permanent and significant obligations for the Social Security and Medicare programs down the road. We will post updates here in the Legislative News section of our website.

Social Security Fairness Act Re-Introduced

This week, Congressmen Rodney Davis (IL-13) and Adam Schiff (CA-28) re-introduced the bipartisan Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 973) with sixty-one original cosponsors. If signed into law, the bill would repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) – two provisions that unfairly reduce the earned Social Security benefits of millions of public servants by as much as 40 percent.

Upon introducing the bill, Rep. Schiff said, “We must work to ensure that public employees, just like retirees who have private pensions, receive the full Social Security benefits to which they are entitled. We have a responsibility to our educators, police officers, and fire fighters to act now to repeal these inequitable provisions, and ensure that hard work for the public good is justly compensated, even in retirement.”

TSCL could not agree more with Congressman Schiff, and we enthusiastically lend our support to H.R. 973. In the months ahead, our legislative team will work tirelessly to help build support for the critical piece of legislation.