The Senate parliamentarian said late Sunday that Democrats won’t be able to use their $3.5 trillion package bolstering social and climate programs for their plan to give millions of immigrants a chance to become citizens. This was a critical blow to the Democrats plan. The decision by Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate’s nonpartisan interpreter of its rules, is a tough setback for the President, congressional Democrats and their allies in the pro-immigration and progressive communities.
The parliamentarian opinion is crucial because it means the immigration provisions could not be included in an immense $3.5 trillion measure that’s been shielded from GOP filibusters. The immigration language has very little chance to survive the 50-50 vote in the Senate. In a three-page memo to senators obtained by The Associated Press, MacDonough noted that under Senate rules, provisions are not allowed in such bills if their budget effect is “merely incidental” to their overall policy impact.
Citing sweeping changes that the bill would make in immigrants’ lives, MacDonough, a one-time immigration attorney, said the language “is by any standard a broad, new immigration policy.” The rejected provisions would open multiyear doorways to legal permanent residence — and perhaps citizenship — for young immigrants brought illegally to the country as children, often called “Dreamers.” Also included would be immigrants with Temporary Protected Status who’ve fled countries stricken by natural disasters or extreme violence; essential workers and farm workers.