House Democrats ask Senate to approve immigration reform
On Wednesday, October 20, a group of 43 Democratic members of the US House of Representatives sent a letter to Senate leaders, asking them to set aside the Senate parliamentarian’s ruling on the immigration resolution in the budget package.
To understand the issue at hand, it is important to explain that the Biden administration included an immigration section in the budget reconciliation process, which would allow it to circumvent the Republican filibuster in Congress and enact the first comprehensive immigration overhaul in decades.
Within the Democratic leaders’ proposal is the possibility of opening a path to legalization for millions of immigrants residing in the US undocumented, especially essential workers.
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What was the Senate Parliamentarian’s ruling?
First of all, it is important to understand that the Senate Parliamentarian is a non-partisan advisor who comments on Senate protocols, rules and legislative activities in certain parliamentary proceedings.
The current Senate Parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, who is a former immigration lawyer and has held this position since 2012, recently stated that the immigration language included in Biden’s spending bill does not qualify as a budgetary issue.
Adding to that, when Democratic leaders tried to modify the immigration language in the budget package, the Senate Parliamentarian rejected their proposal for the second time, stating that it was also not a budgetary issue, but rather an immigration policy change.
You may also be interested: Democrats to Introduce ‘Plan C’ for Immigration Reform in Budget Package
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Why are House members asking to skip the Senate Parliamentarian’s ruling?
House Democratic members openly state that the Senate Parliamentarian’s opinion is merely a suggestion or an unbiased look at the issue, but is not an order that must be followed under any circumstances.
In fact, they argue that “This is a critical moment for our nation’s history, and we strongly urge the Presiding Officer to use their authority to disregard the Senate Parliamentarian’s ruling”.
At this point it is important to explain that, according to regular protocol, the President of the Senate would be Vice President Kamala Harris, who has the right and power to move forward with immigration reform in the budget package despite the Senate Parliamentarian’s opinion.
In that case, the decision would be under the Senate’s discretion and, since the Biden administration is introducing the path to citizenship through the reconciliation process, the final decision would actually be in the hands of the Democratic Caucus.
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