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Senate parliamentarian deals blow to Democrats immigration plan



Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough on Sunday dealt a significant blow to Democrats’ plan to provide 8 million green cards as part of a sweeping spending package, warning it doesn’t comply with tight rules that determine what can be in the bill.

MacDonough’s guidance, a copy of which was obtained by The Hill, likely closes the door to Democrats using the spending bill to provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants. MacDonough, in her guidance, called the Democratic plan “by any standard a broad, new immigration policy.””The policy changes of this proposal far outweigh the budgetary impact scored to it and it is not appropriate for inclusion in reconciliation,” she wrote in the ruling obtained by The Hill.

Democrats pitched MacDonough earlier this month on their plan to use the $3.5 trillion spending bill to provide 8 million green cards for four groups of immigrants: “Dreamers,” temporary protected status (TPS) holders, agricultural workers and essential workers. Getting legal permanent resident status allows an individual to eventually apply for citizenship if they can meet other qualifications. But because Democrats are using reconciliation to pass the spending bill without GOP support, there are strict requirements for what can be included. One of the requirements is that any provision in the bill has to impact the federal government’s spending or revenues and that the impact can’t be “merely incidental” to nonbudgetary intentions. But MacDonough, in her written guidance to senators, wrote that granting LPR status has “no federal fiscal equivalent.”

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“Changing the law to clear the way to LPR status is tremendous and enduring policy change that dwarfs its budgetary impact,” she added.

Democratic leaders had previously vowed that even if the Senate referee, who is a former immigration lawyer, initially ruled against them, they could try to sway MacDonough up until the $3.5 trillion spending bill is on the Senate floor, but they didn’t immediately weigh in on the ruling Sunday night.

Democrats were optimistic that MacDonough would greenlight including their immigration plan in the spending bill because it would increase budget deficits by $139 billion over a 10-year period, according to initial estimates they’ve received from t… (Read more)

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