While House Speaker John Boehner remains non-committal on the immigration bill, supporters of reform received good news in form of report released Tuesday from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
The CBO estimated the Senate’s immigration bill currently under consideration would slash the federal deficit by $197 billion over the next 10 years, and an extra $700 billion in the following decade.
“This report is a huge momentum boost for immigration reform,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, a lead author of the Senate immigration bill, said in a written statement. “This debunks the idea that immigration reform is anything other than a boon to our economy, and robs the bill’s opponents of one of their last remaining arguments. Immigration reform is not only the right thing to do to stay true to our nation’s principles, it will also boost our economy, reduce the deficit and create jobs.”
Fellow supporter and Gang of Eight member Republican Sen. Marco Rubio also touted the CBO’s findings on Tuesday. “The CBO has further confirmed what most conservative economists have found: reforming our immigration system is a net benefit for our economy, American workers and taxpayers,” said Rubio. He continued to press for some final tweaks to the bill, but highlighted the overall benefits: “There remain some key areas that need to be tightened up to prevent those who have violated our immigration laws from accessing federal benefit programs. But overall, the CBO report offers encouraging evidence that the status quo is unacceptable and we can end it without burdening our already burdened taxpayers and, in fact, reduce the deficit over the next 20 years.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the numbers offer “more proof that bipartisan commonsense immigration reform will be good for economic growth and deficit reduction.”
Another big headline from the report: enacting the bill would add roughly 10.4 million people to the U.S. population by 2023, which would have a mostly positive impact on the economy, according to the CBO. Direct spending on benefit programs would go up, but so would the tax revenue going to the government because of the increased size of the labor force. So if the bill gets passed, the CBO estimated a $262 billion increase in federal direct spending toward programs like Medicare and Obamacare. But the bill also increases federal revenues by $459 billion.
Opponents argue the measure would take away jobs from citizens who are already unemployed in a shaky economy.
New measures proposed in the Senate immigration bill include offering citizenship for millions of undocumented workers now living in the United States, provided there are improvements to border security. The bill also overhauls the legal immigration process and cracks down on illegal hiring practices.