Senate Parliamentarian Rules Against Path To Citizenship In Democrats’ Spending Bill

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Democrats’ push to offer younger undocumented Dreamers a path to citizenship violates Senate rules, in response to the Senate’s parliamentarian, who dealt one more blow on Sunday to long-stalled immigration reform efforts in Congress.

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“Changing the law to clear the way to [legal permanent resident] status is tremendous and enduring policy change that dwarfs its budgetary impact,” Elizabeth MacDonough wrote in her memo to lawmakers. 

Top Senate Democrats had argued that sure immigration provisions instantly have an effect on the federal finances, and due to this fact may very well be included within the finances reconciliation course of ― the legislative maneuver that may permit the social gathering to cross President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda with a easy majority.

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Specifically, Democrats needed to offer a path to citizenship for 4 classes of individuals legally within the U.S.: farm employees, important employees, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals beneficiaries and momentary protected standing recipients. Doing so would enhance financial development, create jobs and enhance wages, Democrats argued.

Democrats additionally cited precedent from 2005, when the Republican-controlled Senate handed a bipartisan reconciliation invoice that elevated the variety of immigrant inexperienced playing cards.

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“We feel very strong about that position and we hope it is persuasive,” Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the second highest-ranking Democrat within the Senate, informed reporters on Capitol Hill.

But Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate parliamentarian, who has held the job since 2012, rejected that reasoning. Only insurance policies that instantly change federal spending or revenues might be included within the reconciliation invoice, she mentioned. 

The ruling is a setback for immigration reform advocates, who considered finances reconciliation as one of many final avenues to push reforms by means of and provides a number of the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants within the U.S. a path to citizenship on this Congress. Similar immigration reform proposals have stalled in Congress in recent times on account of fierce GOP opposition and the Senate filibuster. That’s unlikely to vary quickly. 

Democrats might vote to overrule MacDonough and embrace the immigration provisions within the reconciliation invoice. Alternatively, they might exchange her with one other parliamentarian who agrees with them, because the Republican majority did in 2001 after a dispute over President George W. Bush’s finances and tax reduce proposals.

But neither of these eventualities is seen as probably, given the social gathering’s tenuous 50-seat majority, the place any senator who disagrees can withhold their vote. 

“Abiding by the ruling of the parliamentarian is central to the function of the Senate,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) mentioned at a Sept. 14 press convention, calling MacDonough the “final” phrase on the matter.

Earlier this yr, Democrats’ push to cross a $15 minimal wage of their $1.9 trillion COVID-19 reduction package deal was equally thwarted by the Senate parliamentarian, prompting calls from some progressives for her ouster.

However, White House chief of workers Ron Klain, Biden’s prime aide, rapidly shot down that concept.

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