Senate parliamentarian rejects Democrats’ second attempt to include immigration in economic bill

The Senate Parliamentarian on Wednesday rejected Democrats’ second attempt to try to include a pathway to legalization for immigrants in a bill that could be passed with just Democratic support, a source tells CNN.

Democrats argued this time to the parliamentarian that they include a provision to change the registry date from 1972 to 2010 for the legalization of immigrants and it could be passed using budget reconciliation.
The effort to include immigration in their economic agenda bill, although it has faced long odds, has stood as one of the last clear opportunities for Democrats to pass substantial immigration reform in President Joe Biden’s first year in office.
Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, an official who advises the Senate on how its rules, protocols and precedents should be applied, rejected Democrats’ second argument after they submitted a memo Tuesday.
“This registry proposal is also one in which those persons who are not currently eligible to adjust status under the law (a substantial proportion of the targeted population) would become eligible, which is a weighty policy change and our analysis of this issue is thus largely the same as the LPR proposal,” MacDonough wrote in a response, which was obtained by CNN.
The source stressed to CNN they believed this fight for including immigration reform “is not over,” but this is — again — a huge loss for Democrats who want to include these provisions as a last-ditch effort for reform.
The ruling marks the latest setback for Democrats who have pinned their hopes of passing immigration reform this year on the reconciliation bill.
Following the ruling from the parliamentarian, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin called it a “disappointment.”
“Unfortunately we can’t find the language to clear for the reconciliation,” Durbin said, adding Democrats plan to continue finding a way to include it in the bill.
Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey and another champion of immigration reform, also added to the disappointment from Democrats and called the decision “unfortunate.”
“I disagree with her, as I did from her original principle that she’s working from. I disagree with the principle she’s come out with,” he said, referring to the parliamentarian’s ruling that the budgetary impact is dwarfed by the significant impact of the policy change.
Menendez said now Democrats “will go to plan C,” but he wouldn’t elaborate on what that would entail. He said he doesn’t know when they’re going to meet with the parliamentarian again, but said, “We have a Plan C prepared, we just have to talk about executing it.”
Immigrant advocacy groups were disappointed by the parliamentarian’s earlier ruling against a separate proposal to include legalization, but remained optimistic. Sergio Gonzales, Immigration Hub’s executive director, said at the time the decision “is not the final straw.”

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Daniella Diaz, Priscilla Alvarez and Ali Zaslav