On July 8, the U.S. Senate adopted an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2010 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill that will require federal contractors to use the government’s voluntary electronic employee verification system known as E-Verify. The spending bill also extends E-Verify for three more years.
The amendment, sponsored by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), was adopted by voice vote after Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) tried to “kill” the amendment by calling for a vote to “table” it. Schumer’s attempt failed by a vote of 44 to 53.
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Senator Sessions, the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asserted in his remarks that his amendment would prevent illegal immigrants from being hired for stimulus-funded construction jobs.
The Sessions amendment represents the most recent attempt by Congress to show its support for mandating the use of E-Verify by all federal contractors. In 2008, President George W. Bush proposed an executive order that would have put such a mandate in place, but implementation was delayed after several groups, including SHRM, mounted a legal challenge that is still pending. (See related story in this issue.)
In his attempt to defeat the Sessions amendment, Senator Schumer, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Immigration, Refugees and Border Security Subcommittee, argued that E-Verify is flawed and in need of a biometric identification component, something SHRM has been advocating in Congress in an attempt to combat identity fraud.
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY)
Toward that end, SHRM has been advocating for adoption of the New Employee Verification Act; a bill pending in the House of Representatives that would do just that.
The underlying Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill (H.R. 2892) passed the Senate on Thursday, July 9 by a vote of 84 - 6.