Senate Passes Resolution to Repeal Biden “Public Charge” Rule; Biden Set to Veto and Protect Immigrant Families

On May 17, the U.S. Senate passed S.J.Res.18, a resolution introduced by Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS) to reverse the Biden administration’s “public charge” rule, which was finalized and went into effect in 2022 (see Memo, 9/12/2022). NLIHC, along with the Protecting Immigrant Families Coalition (PIF), urged Senators to vote against the resolution, citing the more than 1,000 organizations, across all 50 states, who supported the Biden administration’s public charge rule. The resolution was passed on a 50-47 vote, with two Democratic Senators – Senator Manchin (D-WV) and Senator Tester (D-MT) voting with the Republican majority to overturn the Biden rule. The resolution is expected to pass in the House of Representatives, but President Biden has announced he would veto the resolution and stand firm with immigrant families.

Advocates opposed Senator Marshall’s resolution with concerns that it would create a chilling effect, preventing eligible immigrant households (i.e., lawfully present immigrants, not people who are undocumented) from accessing Medicaid, SNAP, housing, and other vital social safety net services. The Biden “public charge” rule replaced a Trump policy putting green card applications at risk if lawfully present immigrants used such programs. The Trump rule, crafted by White House adviser Stephen Miller, was shown to undermine the pandemic response and widen racial disparities in health, hunger, and poverty. A 2021 poll found that nearly half (46%) of people in immigrant families who needed help or health care during the pandemic did not seek it because of immigration concerns. The Biden rule, which was finalized in 2022, implements a much clearer framework. It restored the historic definition of “public charge,” and it made clear which benefits count toward the test. It did not expand eligibility for public benefits to any new households. When the Biden proposed rule was announced in 2022, NLIHC joined over 1,000 organizations urging them to act quickly to finalize the “public charge” rule.

In a statement, PIF’s director, Adriana Cadena stated: “Senator Manchin and Senator Tester voted with Donald Trump and Stephen Miller and against the wellbeing of their states’ families. They voted to deny families – overwhelmingly families of color – health care, food, and homes, because some members of those families were not born in the U.S. Essentially, they voted to make our country sicker, hungrier, poorer, and weaker. They should be ashamed.”

Read PIF’s statement on the resolution here:

Read President Biden’s Statement of Administration Policy on the resolution here:

Read more about housing access for immigrant households on page 6-63 of NLIHC’s 2023 Advocates’ Guide.