Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough nixes Dem immigrant plan for $3.5T bill

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Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough nixes Dem immigrant plan for $3.5T bill

Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough denied a bid by Democrats Wednesday to make language giving millions of immigrants legal status part of the massive $3.5 trillion spending bill — dealing a second blow to the party’s efforts to expand the scope of the already massive proposal.

Democrats are hoping to pass the plan through reconciliation, meaning it only requires 51 Senate votes rather than the usual 60. However, Senate rules call for such bills to be focused on the federal budget — as well as for the removal of provisions deemed “merely incidental” to government spending.

The Associated Press reported that the language MacDonough rejected Wednesday would have permitted immigrants who arrived in the US before 2010 to apply for legal status if they met other conditions. Current federal law only allows those in the US before 1972 to apply for legal status.

Democrats suggested that 8 million people would have been affected by the proposed language, which MacDonough described as a “weighty policy change” and thus out of bounds for the reconciliation bill, according to The Hill.

Border patrol agents process a Cuban family on an international bridge between Nuevo Laredo, Mexico and Laredo, Texas on July 10, 2019.
Border patrol agents process a Cuban family on an international bridge between Nuevo Laredo, Mexico and Laredo, Texas on July 10, 2019.
AP

On Sept. 19, MacDonough turned aside an initial effort by Democrats to include immigration language in the social spending plan. That 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. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that proposal would also have affected approximately 8 million people in the US.

“It’s unfortunate. I disagree with her,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) told reporters in response to the latest ruling before vowing his colleagues would present MacDonough with a “Plan C” for her consideration.

Migrants return to Mexico as other migrants line up on their way to request asylum in the U.S., at the foot of the Puerta Mexico bridge in Matamoros, Mexico, that crosses into Brownsville, Texas.
The Democrats had hoped to allow immigrants to apply for citizenship as long as they came to the US before 2010.
AP

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said that he was “disappointed” in MacDonough’s verdict, but added that he knew it would be a “real challenge” to get her approval.

Liberal groups and far-left members of Congress have pressured Senate Democrats to ignore MacDonough and force immigration language into the legislation anyway. However, both Menendez and Durbin have indicated leadership does not have the votes to do so.

With Post wires

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