The Senate’s parliamentarian declared late Sunday that Democrats can’t use their $3.5 trillion proposal to enhance social and climate programs in order to offer millions of immigrants a chance to become citizens, the Associated Press reported.
Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough blew to Democrats’ plan to provide 8 million greencards as part of a sweeping spending package. She warned it doesn’t comply with tight rules that determine what can be in the bill, the Hill reported.
MacDonough’s guidance likely closes the door to Democrats using the spending bill to provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants.
MacDonough voted against Democratic language that would have opened the door to citizenship for young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, known as “Dreamers,” as well as immigrants with Temporary Protected Status who have fled countries hit by natural disasters or extreme violence, essential workers, and farm workers.
“The policy changes of this proposal far outweigh the budgetary impact scored to it and it is not appropriate for inclusion in reconciliation,” she wrote in the ruling obtained by The Hill.
Earlier this month, Democrats pitched MacDonough on their idea to utilize the $3.5 trillion spending measure to offer 8 million greencards to four types of immigrants: Dreamers, TPS holders, agricultural workers, and critical workers.
Democrats’ assertions that there is precedent for including immigration reform in reconciliation were dismissed by the parliamentarian. A 2005 GOP-led reconciliation package that addressed a visa backlog was frequently cited by Democrats, according to Politico.
The parliamentarian noted that the 2005 bill was “the product of a bipartisan agreement” and that the provisions “are distinguishable as they applied to persons who were already admissible and not barred under law from applying for status, which is not the case here.”
Reaction of Democrats
Democrats and their pro-immigration allies have suggested they will offer MacDonough alternatives that would allow at least some immigrants to gain permanent status.
“We are deeply disappointed in this decision but the fight to provide lawful status for immigrants in budget reconciliation continues,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a written statement. “Senate Democrats have prepared alternate proposals and will be holding additional meetings with the Senate parliamentarian in the coming days.”
“The parliamentarian’s recommendation is just that: a recommendation,” tweeted Greisa Martinez Rosas, executive director of United We Dream, an immigrants’ rights group. “Democrats can still deliver citizenship this year. It’s time they side with millions of immigrants, our friends, and our communities. This isn’t over. We need citizenship THIS YEAR.”