Now that the Senate has passed its version of the economic stimulus package, by a 61 to 37 vote today, representatives from each legislative chamber will meet to try and work out the differences between the two pieces of legislation. One significant difference the Washington Legislative Office will have its eye on is a troubling provision mandating the use of electronic employment verification systems (E-Verify) for any recipient of stimulus funding.
The ACLU is troubled by E-Verify because it is known to keep innocent Americans from working. The system checks individuals’ citizenship status against their records with the Social Security Administration, a government agency plagued with errors and massive backlogs. This then leads to delays in the hiring of workers, which is harmful to both the employer and the employee. This is not what Americans, nor our economy, need during a time of financial turmoil.
E-Verify was included in the House package, an amendment proposed by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), but was not added to the Senate version. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) was emphatic about proposing similar language, but was not given the opportunity for an amendment vote. This difference in packages will surely be a point of contention for those meeting this week to iron out the two versions, in hopes of having agreed upon legislation sent to President Obama before the President’s Day recess next week.
The stimulus package is supposed to put Americans to work, not keep them from it. If E-Verify is part of the legislation sent to President Obama, the stimulus could end up having the very opposite, and very negative, effect.