From NBC's Ken Strickland, Betsy Cline, and Mark Murray
While never condoning GOP Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst on the House floor yesterday, two Republicans leaders are making the point that Wilson's argument -- that illegal immigrants may in fact, albeit inadvertently, get health-care benefits under the reform proposals written in the House.
Yes, Republican Sen. Jon Kyl says, Obama was technically correct last night when he said that "the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally." But Kyl argues that because the House's health reform bill does not explicitly require verification of eligibility -- proof that you are in fact a legal resident -- some undocumented immigrants may slip through the cracks.
"And so if there is no verification of eligibility required, it is quite likely -- indeed, I would say probable -- that a lot of people who are not eligible, including illegal immigrants, will end up receiving the benefits of the legislation," Kyl said at a news conference today.
Because there was no such requirement in the House bill, Republicans say they offered amendments to include verification measures, which are already used in other federal programs. Those amendments were defeated.
"There were two opportunities, in committee, for House Democrats to make clear that illegal immigrants would not be covered by putting in requirements to show citizenship," said House Minority Leader John Boehner.