IRSCompliantForever asked this question in a comment, and I thought the answer was interesting (and complicated) enough to deserve its own post. The Reed Amendment — which bans people determined by the Attorney-General to have “renounced citizenship for the purpose of avoiding taxation” — was an amendment to the Immigration in the National Interest Act of 1995 (which eventually morphed into the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996), moved while the bill was being considered by the House Committee on the Judiciary. The amendment passed with broad bipartisan support — you’ll notice plenty of familiar names among the committee voters, including Chuck Schumer — while the Republican control of the House and Senate ensured the passage of the bill in which it was contained. The detailed breakdown of the votes can be found after the jump.
Who voted for the amendment in committee?
You can see the vote for the Reed Amendment in the committee report (CTRL+F for “33. Amendment offered by Mr. Reed”). I was aware in a general sense that Republicans had taken back the House and the Senate in 1994, and that the Reed Amendment originated in 1995, but I’d never really put two and two together until reading this list: Republicans formed a majority among the supporters of the Reed Amendment. Indeed, every single one of the Republican freshmen on the committee who joined the House as a result of the 1994 “Revolution” voted for Reed’s amendment. On the other hand, the sponsor of the bill itself, Lamar Smith, voted against the Reed Amendment.
On the Democratic side, somehow I was not particularly surprised to learn that Chuck Schumer had weaselled his way onto the committee and voted in favour. Apparently his hatred of people who won’t be donating to his re-election campaigns any more runs much farther back than his camera-ready insta-outrage during the kerfluffle over Saverin’s renunciation in 2012. You may also recognise some names from the Congressional Progressive Caucus which these days carries on its tradition of emigrant harassment by repeatedly trying to kill what they insultingly refer to as the Foreign Earned Income “Loophole”: Xavier Becerra, John Conyers, Jerrold Nadler, and Mel Watt.
- Supporters (13 Republicans, 12 Democrats): Bob Barr (R-GA), Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Howard Berman (D-CA), Sonny Bono (R-CA), Ed Bryant (R-TN), John Bryant (D-TX), Steve Buyer (R-IN), Steve Chabot (R-OH), John Conyers (D-MI), Michael Flanagan (R-IL), Elton Gallegly (R-CA), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Fred Heineman (R-NC), Henry Hyde (R-IL), Bob Inglis (R-SC), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Jack Reed (D-RI), Steven Schiff (R-NM), Patricia Schroeder (D-CO), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), James Sensbrenner (R-WI), Mel Watt (D-NC).
- Opposers (5 Republicans): Howard Coble (R-NC), George Gekas (R-PA), Carlos Moorhead (R-CA), Bill McCollum (R-FL), Lamar Smith (R-TX)
Who voted for the bills themselves?
This is probably the less relevant question; most Congresscritters probably weren’t even aware of the Reed Amendment’s existence, and their votes would have been influenced primarily by the immigration restriction provisions of the bills in question, rather than the emigration restriction provisions. Additionally, the bills have a rather tangled legislative history; hopefully I haven’t made any errors as I tried to trace it. The Immigration in the National Interest Act, H.R. 1915, was introduced in the House by Lamar Smith (R-TX) on 22 June 1995 with 100 cosponsors; you can see the full list over on its THOMAS page. As mentioned above, the various committees reported the bill with amendments, one of which was the Reed Amendment.
After all the subcommittees reported the bill, Smith moved a new bill with all their amendments, the Immigration Control and Financial Responsibility Act (H.R. 2202; again, see its THOMAS page). H.R. 2202 passed the House on 22 March 1996 (GovTrack has a nice visual breakdown of the vote). The Senate had their own version of the bill without the Reed Amendment or any of the other new grounds of inadmissibility, which passed, but instead they went on to pass the House version nearly unanimously on 2 May 1996, but with amendments (to be honest, at this point I’m plain old stumped whether or not the Reed Amendment was in the version of the bill that they passed).
There was another vote in the House in September in which it passed with a bit less support, but from there it seems to have died due to the inability of the two chambers to reconcile the differences in the versions of the bill they passed. At some point the Reed Amendment was taken out of the bill, only to be put back in; supporter Xavier Becerra expressed his complete bewilderment at all the procedural manoeuvring (at page H11076 of the Congressional Record for 25 September 1996):
Mr. Speaker, let me go on to say that I am very disappointed in what we have here today, for a couple of reasons, not only because I think substantively this is a bill that needs a great deal of improvement, but because procedurally it is disappointing to see, in the greatest democracy in the world, that the Republicans, the majority in this Congress, saw fit not to allow anyone to participate in the structuring of this final version of the bill unless one happened to be Republican.
Not one point in time, since the bill first passed out of the House of Representatives back in March, have Democrats had an opportunity to provide amendments to this particular conference report or to participate even in discussion of amendments on this report. We had a conference committee yesterday that was only for the purpose of offering an opening statement. We did not have a chance to make an offer of an amendment that say, `This is a provision that needs to be changed; can we change it?’ Not a word. We were not allowed one opportunity to do so. This has come to the floor, with changes made in the back room in the dead of night, and some people are only now finding out what some of the provisions are.
I want to give you one example of how procedurally this bill has gone wrong. In conference we happened to have found out, because we were handed a sheet that same morning, that a provision in the bill that we thought was in, which would deny a billionaire a visa to come into this country after that billionaire had renounced his U.S. citizenship. In other words, we have a billionaire in this country who renounces his U.S. citizenship, says, `I do not want to be a U.S. citizen any more.’ Why? Because he wants to avoid taxes. If an individual is not a U.S. citizen, they do not pay U.S. taxes. So he renounces his citizenship, goes abroad, and then comes right back, applies for a visa to come back into this country. He has not paid any taxes, and he gets to come back into the country.
We had a provision in the bill that said, no, if an individual renounces their U.S. citizenship because they want to avoid taxes, they cannot come back in. We walk in that morning, and that provision is no longer there. So these billionaires can come back into the country without having paid their taxes. We said, why did you put that back in there? Why did we not have a chance to discuss this? Good news? Billionaires cannot come back in, if they renounce their citizenship. Bad news? We did not know it until this morning when we walked in and found it is back in the bill. That is the democratic process that we have undergone in this bill, where Members are not told what is in the bill until the last moment.
Eventually, IIRIRA was stuck in as Division C of the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY1997; see the GovTrack page for a breakdown of the votes. It passed with overwhelming support from Republicans, and a nearly even split among Democrats.
With our legislative process, this does become a rather prevalent and re-occurring theme, ala FATCA…
Unfortunately, it happens in Canada as well. One can only hope Canadians will tire of the Harper govt sneaking in improper amendments, particularly when privacy issues are concerned (border, IGA, etc).
The gulf between the rhetoric and application in congressional process is mind-blowing. Here Xavier Becerra (D-CA) mentions ‘billionaire’ five times. And in a perfect example of egregious overstatement, Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) later states in the same document:
“In a frenzy to shove undocumented immigrants out of the country, the Republican majority has crafted one of the most offensive pieces of legislation ever. They did not make this bill any better simply by removing the bar on undocumented children attending public school. The conference agreement still severely restricts legal immigrants’ access to benefits, even though they play by the rules, they work hard and they pay taxes. But yet those multibillionaires who renounce their citizenship just so they cannot pay taxes, they are welcome to come back.”
So is it billionaires or multibillionaires that Jack Reed and his pals want to ban with Ex-PATRIOT? Well, neither. He wants to ban anyone who has saved a mere 1/500th of the way towards a billion. That’s a huge reality gap.
I spent a few months on the Hill once, trying to make sure the U.S. government didn’t give my business to a foreign power, I talked with about a dozen senators, I have never in my life met a group of people so powerful and stupid at the same time, they thought they were royalty, it made me sick.
Is the Reed amendment, dead, alive or in stasis?
@Eric, many thanks for wading through all of this and for providing me with the answer and history:
[Sonny Bono, husband of Cher, supported the Reed in committee!]
For whatever reason, my congressman, House democrat Jim McDermott (now on House W&M), was among the minority voting against the bill containing the Reed in March and September 1996.
In my letter to McDermott, asking him to compare carefully RBT vs. Reed amendment solutions to our problems, I can now point out that he previously, most likely unknowingly, “voted against the Reed” twice.
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Just saw this video on Youtube. I don’t know if it’s hilarious or downright scary. It shows just how out of touch Americans are:
The points in the video are twofold: a) the guy going around asking questions and asking them to sign the petition is doing it to expose just how “out-of-touch” people are. They’ll sign anything just as long as it is pro-Obama. It shows in the disbelief in his face that people would sign to “repeal the Bill of Rights” b) it shows just how detached people are from being informed about the voting process and how deluded people are that their freedoms are being stripped away one by one. People are lemmings and this video just proves that.
Bend over, here it comes again. Jack and Chuck just can’t get enough of screwing ex-pats.
“US Homeland Security Bill amendment hits at expat tax dodgers”
@AbusedExpat: I think it’s just some clueless journalist recycling & misinterpreting two-week-old news about one of the immigration bill amendments. Tweedledum and Tweedledumber will definitely find another platform for their two-decade-long campaign of Exile and Punishment Against Taxpayers Residing In Other Territories, but not yet. I don’t find any “Homeland Security Bill” before Congress right now, and according to the Congressional Record no one has even mentioned the words “expatriate” or “renounce citizenship” on the floor of the House or Senate since 27 June.
Given that the Reed amendment:
1. is a punishment;
2. is cruel because it prevents family reunification;
3. is unusual because no other country, state or territory has anything similar;
I am convinced that it is unconstitutional based on the 8th amendment to the US constitution.
Please see the blog below by a lady named Virgina La Torre Jeker. She wrote somewhere else that the Reed amendment was taken out of the Immigration bill and then moved into a Homeland Security bill which empowers Homeland Security to deny entry of expats who are unable to prove that they had expatriated for non-tax reasons.
Since when does anyone in Washington respect the Constitution?
@AbusedExpat: yes, page 46 of that PDF:
S 744 is the big immigration reform bill (there is no current Homeland Security bill I can find, only SA 1183 which was a border security amendment to the immigration reform bill). SA 1609 is precisely the amendment which we discussed in this post two weeks ago:
Shadow Raider was kind enough to do the digging and confirm by visual inspection that S 744 passed the Senate without that SA 1609 in it:
So for now we are safe …
The number of this latest amendment is S.A. 1609 . It appears at page S5075 of the Congressional Record for Monday, 24 June 2013; the text is identical to the earlier S.A. 1233 we discussed two weeks ago , including in its misspelling of “principal purpose” as “principle purpose”. However, it is not an amendment to the immigration reform bill itself, but rather a second-degree amendment to Patrick Leahy (D-VT)’s border security amendment S.A. 1183 — in a manner heavily reminiscent of Carl Levin’s FATCA, which after its repeated failure as a standalone bill was moved as an amendment once he finally finally find somewhere to sneakily insert it. The Senate already invoked cloture on S.A. 1183, and scheduled it for a final vote on Wednesday (tomorrow).
Up on the FAWCO website today is a call for all Americans abroad who are heading to the U.S. this summer to visit friends and family to stop by and meet with their reps and senators while they are in town.
I think it’s a damn good idea. It’s a chance to tell them in person exactly what you think of things like the Reed Amendment (and its bastard child the Reed/Schumer amendment) and many other topics of interest to us. I’m sure all of us have quite a lot to say. 🙂
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