Senate parliamentarian rejects Democrats’ immigration plan
Earlier this month, Democrats presented MacDonough with plans to use the $ 3.5 trillion spending bill to provide 8 million green cards to four immigrant groups: the “dreamers,” the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, agricultural workers and essential workers. Obtaining lawful permanent resident status allows a person to eventually apply for citizenship if they can meet other qualifications.
But because Democrats are using reconciliation to pass the spending bill without GOP support, there are strict requirements for what can be included. One of the requirements is that any provision of the bill must have an impact on federal government spending or revenues and that the impact cannot be “just incidental” to non-budgetary intentions.
But MacDonough, in his written instructions to senators, wrote that the granting of LPR status has “no federal tax equivalent.”
“Changing the law to pave the way for LPR status is a huge and lasting political change that overshadows its budgetary impact,” she added.
Democratic leaders had promised that if the Senate arbitrator initially rejected their efforts, they could continue to try to influence him until the $ 3.5 trillion spending bill was on the Senate floor. Majority leader in the Senate Charles schumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer and Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt ceiling or risk ‘avoidable crisis’ (DN.Y.) Sunday night said Democrats would accept an alternative proposal to MacDonough.
“We are deeply disappointed with this decision but the fight to provide legal status to immigrants as part of the budget reconciliation continues. Senate Democrats have prepared alternative proposals and will hold additional meetings with the Senate parliamentarian in the coming years. days, ”Schumer said.
Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Dick durbinDick DurbinManchin lets Washington guess what he wants Democrats hope Biden can topple Manchin, US gymnasts at Sinema offer scathing FBI assessment MORE (D-Ill.) And Sen. Alex PadillaAlex Padilla Democrats revive fight against filibuster on voting rights bill Senate supporters of new voting rights bill push for swift passage Stacey Abrams backs compromise on voting rights Senate Democrats vote PLUS (D-Calif.), Who oversees the immigration subcommittee, added that “the struggle for immigration reform will continue.”
Aides did not immediately respond to questions about the alternative plan.
The spending bill is the best way for Democrats to push immigration reform through President BidenJoe BidenSunday Shows Sneak Peek: Coronavirus Dominates As Country Battles Delta Variant Has President Biden instituted a vaccine mandate for only half of the country’s teachers? Democrats look at vaccine mandates ahead of midterm MOREthe office of. Although the House has already passed two small bills, Senate Democrats have been unable to come up with a plan that could secure the 10 GOP votes needed to break an obstruction in the Senate. Durbin has had bipartisan talks, but they have been slow and Democrats lack the full unity they need to end the filibuster.
Democrats were optimistic MacDonough would give the green light to including their immigration plan in the spending bill, as it would increase budget deficits by $ 139 billion over 10 years, early estimates show they received from the Congressional Budget Office.
But Republicans also argued to MacDonough that immigration reform was outside of what could be passed as part of reconciliation, allowing Democrats to avoid a GOP obstruction in the Senate.
“Immigration is well outside the bounds of what should be included,” the senator said. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneManchin lets Washington guess what he wants Manchin-McConnell to meet amid new pressure on voting rights Republican leaders misjudged the January 6 committee MORE (SD), Republican No. 2 in the Senate, told The Hill.
Senator Lindsey grahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by National Industries for the Blind – Enhanced Security for Capitol Gathering; Biden’s Agenda Slows Down Trump Offers Sympathy to Those Charged with Jan.6 Offenses Lindsey Graham: Police Must ‘Take Strong Line’ with September 18 Rally Participants MORE (RS.C.), the top Republican on the budget committee, welcomed MacDonough’s decision and argued that legal status should not be provided without broader immigration reforms.
“Parliamentarian’s advice reinforces the Senate’s long-standing traditions that major policy changes should be made in collaboration and not through the process of reconciliation. This decision reinforces the fact that the Senate is truly different from the House, ”he said in a statement on Sunday.
Outside groups supporting the use of the spending bill to pass immigration reform argued it was the first step in the process, not a nail in the coffin to make changes. to the expenditure bill.
“We anticipated it would be an iterative, multi-step process with several apple bites,” said FWD.us president Todd Schulte. “We remain convinced that the ability of people to adjust their status will go through the process of reconciliation given the clear and substantial budgetary and economic impact.”
If Democrats can’t sway MacDonough, they’ll either have to keep the language of immigration out of the spending bill or muster the 60 votes needed to keep it. With Republicans opposed to using the spending package to pass immigration reform, this is unlikely.
Democrats are also likely to face fresh calls to quash the legislative obstruction, which would allow them to pass immigration reform and other priorities with a simple majority outside of reconciliation, as well as sack MacDonough or officially quash him on the pitch, a move that would take a total unity of Democrats and Vice President Harris who presides.
Greisa Martinez Rosas, executive director of United We Dream Action, said that “the parliamentarian of the Senate is an unelected adviser to the Senate” and that the Democrats and Biden “have all the power to do the right thing”.
“Democrats in Congress must keep their promises to the people,” she said.