Senate Democrats likely will not be able to include a pathway to legalization for millions of immigrants in their $3.5 trillion bill to expand the country’s social safety net after new guidance from the Senate parliamentarian Sunday night.
The decision comes as a resounding rebuke to Democrats, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation. While it’s incredibly hard to overrule such a decision, one Democratic source noted they might try narrowing the policy to include some sort of immigration provision in the bill, but the chances remain slim.
Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough wrote in her ruling, “Changing the law to clear the way to (Legal Permanent Resident) status is tremendous and enduring policy change that dwarfs its budgetary impact.”
In a key meeting with MacDonough earlier this month, Senate Democrats made their case to include a path to legalization for millions of immigrants in the massive economic bill. Democrats argued their plan to give roughly 8 million immigrants an opportunity to apply for green cards in the country would have a major economic impact — a pitch they hoped would convince her to allow them to include it in a complicated process known as reconciliation.
In a statement after the ruling, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “We are deeply disappointed in this decision but the fight to provide lawful status for immigrants in budget reconciliation continues. Senate Democrats have prepared alternate proposals and will be holding additional meetings with the Senate parliamentarian in the coming days.”
Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin of Illinois and Sen. Alex Padilla of California, the chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety, expressed similar disappointment in a statement, also alluding to a forthcoming alternate proposal.
This story has been updated with additional information.
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