3 more tries at immigration reform in Biden’s $3.5T bill

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3 more tries at immigration reform in Biden's $3.5T bill

New York Rep. Adriano Espaillat says his party has three more options for getting immigration reform into President Biden’s teetering $3.5 reconciliation budget, after the Senate Parliamentarian blocked two other similar efforts by the Democrats. 

In a Friday interview with CNN, the Democrat admitted that there will be cuts in the infrastructure project, but the last thing he wants to leave out is immigration reform. 

“But, for me, the deal-breaker is really leaving immigrants behind in the reconciliation bill. And I have been assured by the speaker today that there will be some version of immigration reform in the reconciliation package,” Espaillat (D-NY) said. “And I think that’s very encouraging for me. I don’t want to leave the immigrants behind.”

His comments come two days after Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough denied a bid by Democrats to make language giving millions of immigrants legal status part of the $3.5 trillion spending bill.

“There are two versions that have been shut down,” Espaillat said. “But we have five versions. We predicted that the parliamentarian may shoot down a couple of the versions that we presented. But there are three other versions.”

Espaillat added that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is considering some of the three versions to be included. 

President Joe Biden walks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
President Joe Biden walks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on Oct. 1, 2021.
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

One day after MacDonough’s decision, protesters stopped traffic along San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge for more than 30 minutes in an effort to urge Congress to pass the immigrant citizenship bill through the budget reconciliation. 

Around 25 cars paused traffic at around 7 a.m. local time, where protesters gave speeches from a truck while holding banners that read, “Pass the $3.5 trillion spending bill,” “Override the Parliamentarian” and “Citizenship for All.” 

“Immigrant communities cannot wait another 20 years of failed promises. An inclusive pathway to citizenship would boost the U.S. economy,” organizers of the protest said in a statement, per the SFist.  

“As the Center for American Progress reports, a pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants would increase U.S. gross domestic product by a cumulative total of $1.7 trillion over 10 years, create 438,800 new jobs, and increase wages for undocumented and American workers. The time to deliver economic justice, climate justice, and citizenship for all is now.”

Protesters from United We Dream Action gather with other immigrant rights groups to push for immigration and pathway to citizenship reform in the reconciliation bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 30, 2021.
Protesters from United We Dream Action gather with other immigrant rights groups to push for immigration and pathway to citizenship reform in the reconciliation bill in Washington on Sept. 30, 2021.
REUTERS/Leah Millis

“For these reasons, we demand that Vice President Harris and top Democrats in Congress override the decision by the unelected Senate parliamentarian which excludes undocumented immigrants from the budget reconciliation process.”

At least five people connected to the protest were arrested and at least four vehicles were towed, according to Fox News. 

Democrats are hoping to pass their immigration plan through reconciliation, however, Senate rules call for such bills to be focused on the federal budget.

The decision followed an initial effort by the Democrats to include the immigration language which was turned down by MacDonough on Sept. 19. The proposal would have granted permanent status to immigrants illegally brought to the US as children, farm and essential workers and people who fled certain countries affected by violence or natural disasters. 

At the time, the Congressional Budget Office estimated it would also have affected approximately 8 million people in the US.

This week, Congress is attempting to pass the massive spending bill and a bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, but has been struggling with negotiations between progressives and moderate democrats. 

Pelosi had insisted all week that the infrastructure legislation would come up for a vote Thursday. She had initially promised moderate members of her conference who supported that measure that it would be voted on by Sept. 27, but allowed the deadline to slide as she sought to placate progressives who wanted to vote on the larger bill first.

Biden is expected to head to Capitol Hill for a 3:30 p.m. meeting on Friday with House Democrats in a desperate bid to strike a deal before it’s too late.

Democrats have sent mixed messages throughout the day, with some affirming there would be a vote on Friday while others prepared to work over the weekend.

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