Senate Democrats have faced mounting criticism for their efforts to include controversial immigration reform measures in a budget package designed to pass even without GOP support.
Now, reports indicate that Democrats are attempting to hide behind the Senate parliamentarian, whose decision on the matter will determine whether the strongarm tactic will be permitted.
Details of the plan
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is behind an amnesty provision known as the U.S. Citizenship Act and wants to see it tucked inside a much larger $3.5 trillion budget bill.
Specifically, the immigration measure would provide a path to citizenship and green cards to undocumented immigrants who are either eligible for or already enrolled in protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Such protections would also be afforded to farmworkers, those considered “essential workers,” and recipients of Temporary Protected Status. It is unclear how many total individuals might benefit, but the number is likely in the millions.
Democrats are trying to sneak the plan into the larger infrastructure bill and bypass the Senate filibuster, which requires a 60-vote majority for most measures to advance.
Since the infrastructure bill is related to the budget, it could be passed under the more favorable reconciliation process with a mere 51-vote majority needed.
“Based on that we’ll decide”
Instead of firmly standing behind the ploy, however, Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and others are publicly deferring to the Senate parliamentarian.
“We’ll leave that to her discretion, and then, based on that we’ll decide where the appropriate place for it is,” Rosen explained.
Of course, existing Senate rules dictate that anything added to the bill should be related to spending and taxes, meaning that an honest review of the amnesty measure should preclude its inclusion.
Nevertheless, Menedez defended the move, arguing that the immigration bill would have “tremendous budget effects” and “provide revenue to the federal Treasury because of the fees and taxes people will pay.”
It remains to be seen how the parliamentarian will rule, but polls suggest some moderate swing-state Democrats would lose support among their constituents if they vote in favor of a budget bill containing the amnesty provision.