Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, has blocked an extension of healthcare benefits to elderly and disabled refugees that has received bi-partisan support before.
“A population of people that could really be hurting is being denied a benefit because of what may be an unrelated concern,” said Rich Seckel with Kentucky Equal Justice Center.
Earlier this week it seemed likely the Senate would pass a bill that would extend the time elderly and disabled refugees had to take a citizenship test, keeping SSI benefits intact. The extension needed to be passed by Oct. 1 or funding would stop. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s, R-KY, office previously reported over 600 Kentucky refugees would be affected by this legislation.
In opposing the measure, Paul often discusses the two refugees arrested earlier this year in Bowling Green and accused of plotting terrorist acts, but the men weren’t elderly and they weren’t disabled, said Seckel.
“It was unexpected. I think people are trying to understand and appreciate Senator Paul’s concerns and really distinguish what he’s most concerned about with what this bill is trying to do,” he said.
Paul reportedly said he now wants an investigation at how welfare to refugees is funded.
Congress has twice passed an extension before with bi-partisan support. The Social Security Administration has stopped funding the SSI for elderly and disabled refugees.
Calls to Paul’s office were not returned.