The so-called Senate Gang of Eight immigration reform bill, which includes a path to citizenship for millions of the nation's undocumented immigrants, would increase U.S. population by 10.4 million and would decrease federal budget deficits by $197 billion over the next ten years, according to a new report published Tuesday by the independent Congressional Budget Office.
CBO projects that about 8 million undocumented immigrants would seek to obtain legal status if the bill was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama.
The legislation is also projected to decrease federal budget deficits by about $700 billion over the 2024-2033 period, as well as spur a net increase of 16 million to the U.S. population.
“This report is a huge momentum boost for immigration reform." said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who helped author the bill, in a statement. "This debunks the idea that immigration reform is anything other than a boon to our economy, and robs the bill’s opponents of one of their last remaining arguments."
A study released by the conservative Heritage Foundation in May found that the bill would cost $6.3 trillion over the entire lifetime of the 11 million undocumented immigrants who could potentially gain legal status through the bill.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a key conservative author who has danced around his support for the bill in recent days, also praised the report as good news for immigration reform.
"There remain some key areas that need to be tightened up to prevent those who have violated our immigration laws from accessing federal benefit programs," he said in a statement. "But overall, the CBO report offers encouraging evidence that the status quo is unacceptable and we can end it without burdening our already burdened taxpayers and, in fact, reduce the deficit over the next 20 years."
While House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) assured his fellow conservatives in a private meeting Tuesday that he would not push the Senate immigration reform bill through the House without support from the majority of his restive caucus, the CBO report may give him more breathing room if he decides to forgo the so-called "Hastert rule" in conference.
Read the CBO report in full here.