House Immigration Reform Would Reduce Deficit By Estimated $900 Billion Over 20 Years

CREDIT: Esther Y. Lee

A nonpartisan federal agency is predicting that enacting an immigration bill introduced by House Democrats would likely help to offset the nation’s budget deficit by increasing direct spending and revenues. Douglas Elmendorf, Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), stated in a letter to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Tuesday that passage of the House Democrat’s comprehensive immigration bill would decrease the federal deficit by $200 billion between 2015 and 2024 and about $900 billion over 20 years.

Although the CBO has not released its full findings of the House Democrats’ bill, the legislation heavily borrows from the approved Senate immigration reform bill, which the CBO has already found would significantly reduce the federal budget by $158 billion in the first decade and about $700 billion in the second decade. The House version of the bill “would differ modestly from the effects” of the Senate bill primarily because the “assumed enactment date would be different and because CBO has updated its baseline projections.”

The CBO letter comes a day before House Democrats are set to release the “Demand a Vote” immigration discharge petition, which could force House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to allow a floor vote on the House Democrats’ version of the comprehensive immigration bill. The petition is expected to fall short of the required 218 signatures (or “absolute majority”) needed to force such a vote, but it would be the best chance to hold those House Republicans accountable who claim that they would vote for reform. Reps. Jeff Denham (R-CA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and David Valadao (R-CA), the only Republican supporters of the House Democrats’ immigration bill, have all said that they would not sign the petition. And 19 House Republicans have said that they would support a set of GOP-backed immigration principles, but they are also unlikely to sign the discharge petition, with some citing the midterm elections. According to Time, a recent poll conducted by a Republican firm last week found that “support of or opposition to immigration reform didn’t impact voter support at the polls.”