The Senate parliamentarian on Sunday rejected Democrats' push to include a pathway to legal status in their social spending plan, a blow to the party’s efforts to enact immigration reform.
In the decision, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO, the parliamentarian determined that the Democrats’ proposal is "by any standard a broad, new immigration policy" and that the policy change "substantially outweighs the budgetary impact of that change."
Democrats have vowed to pursue an alternative proposal to allow immigration provisions in their planned multitrillion-dollar party-line social spending bill should they disagree with the ruling from the nonpartisan Senate rules arbiter, and two of them immediately promised to pursue that in a Sunday night statement. But it's unclear how new reasoning for immigration provisions with the same ultimate effect could win over the parliamentarian, meaning that the new ruling likely closes the path forward for providing legal status through Democrats-only legislation this Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday evening that Democrats are "deeply disappointed in the decision" but plan to meet with the Senate parliamentarian in the coming days and pursue other options.
"Our economy depends more than ever on immigrants," Schumer said. "Despite putting their lives on the line during the pandemic and paying their fair share of taxes, they remain locked out of the federal assistance that served as a lifeline for so many families. We will continue fighting to pursue the best path forward to grant them the ability to obtain lawful status.”
[...] But the parliamentarian stated in her ruling that providing legal status through reconciliation would also lead to "other, life-changing federal, state and societal benefits" that can't be meaningfully reflected in the budget.
Providing permanent legal status "would give these persons freedom to work, freedom to travel, freedom to live openly in our society in any state in the nation, and to reunite with their families and it would make them eligible, in time, to apply for citizenship — things for which there is no federal fiscal equivalent."
Ilhan Omar and Bill Kristol are both on the same side of this issue:
This ruling by the parliamentarian, is only a recommendation. @SenSchumer and the @WhiteHouse can and should ignore it.
This decision matters because immigration legislation standing alone would be filibustered. The more you look at the filibuster, the clearer it is that it stands in the way of a sound legislative process, and contributes to both gridlock and polarization. https://t.co/D00mOYeESK