The Star Democrat
Senate parliamentarian deals Democrats blow on immigration
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats must drop an effort to let millions of immigrants remain temporarily in the U.S. from their expansive social and environment bill, the Senate parliamentarian decided Thursday, dealing the latest blow to a longtime priority of the party, migrant advocates and progressives.
The opinion by Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate’s nonpartisan arbiter of its rules, all but certainly means Democrats will ultimately have to pull the proposal from their 10-year, roughly $2 trillion package. The measure carries health care, family services and climate change initiatives, mostly paid for with higher taxes on corporations and the rich, that are top priorities for President Joe Biden.
When the Senate considers the overall legislation — which is currently stalled — Democrats are expected to try reviving the immigration provisions, or perhaps even stronger language giving migrants a way to become permanent residents or citizens. But such efforts would face solid opposition from Republicans and probably a small number of Democrats, which would be enough for defeat in the 50-50 chamber.
MacDonough’s opinion was no surprise — it was the third time since September that she said Democrats would violate Senate rules by using the legislation to help immigrants and should remove immigration provisions from the bill. Nonetheless, it was a painful setback for advocates hoping to capitalize on Democratic control of the White House and Congress for gains on the issue, which have been elusive in Congress for decades.
MacDonough’s finding was the second defeat of the day inflicted on Democrats’ social and economic package. Biden was also forced to concede that Senate work on the massive overall bill would be delayed until at least January after his negotiations stalled with holdout Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who wants to further cut and reshape the legislation.
“We will advance this work together over the days and weeks ahead,” the president said in a statement.
Democrats’ latest immigration proposal would have let an estimated 6.5 million immigrants in the U.S. since at least 2010 without legal authorization apply for up to two five-year work permits.The permits would let them hold jobs, avoid deportation and in some instances travel abroad without risking their residency here. Applicants would have to meet background checks and other requirements.
Immigration advocates and their Democratic Senate allies have said they will continue seeking a way to include provisions helping migrants in the legislation, but their pathway is unclear.