KEY POINTS

  • The provision seeks to benefit undocumented immigrants, including Dreamers
  • Democrats said they will continue to find alternatives for immigrants
  • MacDonough previously rejected a wage provision in the $1.9 relief package 

Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough moved Sunday to block Democrats from including citizenship pathways in the debated $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, but Dems are looking to get back up and present ways to provide other immigration options to undocumented immigrants.

In a copy of the ruling obtained by Axios, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that “changing the law to clear the way to [legal permanent residence] status is tremendous and enduring policy change that dwarfs its budgetary impact.” The plan could have allowed Democrats to pass immigration changes with only 50 votes by using reconciliations. The usual votes needed for passing such changes stands at 60.

Democrats are now seeking to present the parliamentarian with an alternative plan to get immigration provisions included in the bill, Politico reported. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said that while Democrats are “deeply disappointed in the decision,” they will continue to meet with MacDonough in the coming days to find alternatives. “We will continue fighting to pursue the best path forward to grant them the ability to obtain lawful status,” Schumer said of the plan’s supposed beneficiaries.

Besides passing immigration changes with fewer votes, the Dems’ plan could have provided 8 million green cards to undocumented workers in essential industries, Temporary Protected Status holders, and Dreamers. MacDonough said the plan is “by any standard a broad, new immigration policy,” The Hill reported.

Due to the use of reconciliation in passing the spending bill, the package needs to abide by strict requirements for what specific plans can be included, one of which is that bill provisions should have an effect on federal spending or revenue. MacDonough decided that granting lawful permanent resident (LPR) status would have “no federal fiscal equivalent.”

Dreamers, in particular, would be huge beneficiaries should the provision be included in the $3.5 trillion bill, the Los Angeles Times reported. Dreamers are participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Children in this group were those brought into the United States illegally as children.

This is not the first time MacDonough blocked a Democrat-led provision. Earlier this year, the Senate parliamentarian stopped Dems from adding a provision of $15 per hour minimum wage in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that has since been passed. At that time, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said U.S. President Joe Biden was “disappointed in this outcome,” CNBC reported. In the said package, Democrats also sought for the bill’s passage without GOP support.

A family of immigrants stand in line with others at a processing checkpoint before being detained at a holding facility by US Border Patrol agents in the Texas border city of Roma A family of immigrants stand in line with others at a processing checkpoint before being detained at a holding facility by US Border Patrol agents in the Texas border city of Roma Photo: AFP / Ed JONES