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Senate Parliamentarian Rules Against Democrats’ Plan C for Immigration Reform

Dec 16, 2021

The Capitol building

Democrats were dealt another setback on Thursday when the Senate parliamentarian rejected their third proposal to include immigration provisions in their $1.75 trillion spending plan.

Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough struck down their revised arguments, stating their proposal once again didn’t follow Senate rules.

Democrats initially had hoped to include a pathway to citizenship for DACA holders, farmworkers, and essential workers, but they were forced to revise their proposal after MacDonough rejected it on two occasions. Their third attempt expanded on immigration parole, a program that offers work authorization and protection from deportation. The provision would protect more than 7 million undocumented immigrants who have been living in the United States since before 2011.

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Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin called the decision “disappointing,” but said that Democrats are “considering what options are available.”

In a joint statement, Durbin and his fellow Democrats said they “strongly disagree with the Senate parliamentarian’s interpretation of our immigration proposal, and we will pursue every means to achieve a path to citizenship in the Build Back Better Act.”

Democrats are advancing the bill through a process known as “budget reconciliation,” which allows legislation to pass with a simple majority, avoiding a filibuster by Republicans in a 50/50 Senate.

The plan was seen by many as the only chance Congress has to pass meaningful immigration reform before the midterm elections.

The Senate parliamentarian’s decisions are not binding, and her latest ruling will likely intensify calls by some Democrats to reject her guidance. However, any attempt to ignore her decision or replace her would require a majority vote in the Senate, and at least two lawmakers have signaled they would not support such a move.

Earlier this year, President Biden included a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants as part of his immigration agenda, but so far his efforts have been thwarted by stalled bipartisan talks in Congress.

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