In what could represent a final death blow to the Democrats’ plan to include amnesty for illegal immigrants in their massive $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, thus bypassing a likely Republican filibuster, Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough announced on Sunday that such a move was impermissible under the prevailing rules, as The Hill reported.
As part of the massive legislation, Democrats had hoped to make a formal change to the date upon which undocumented immigrants would be able to seek changes in their legal status in this country and provide a pathway to legal permanent residence as well as citizenship for groups including beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and others, as Fox News noted.
Many on the left viewed the reconciliation route as the strongest chance for getting amnesty done, considering that in order to overcome a GOP filibuster of such proposals, 10 Republican lawmakers would have to defect and lend their support, something which has appeared all but impossible in recent months.
According to The Hill, MacDonough dashed Democrat hopes by stating that the type of immigration law changes they had proposed would represent a “weighty policy change and our analysis of this issue is thus largely the same” as a prior push from the left to achieve a similar outcome earlier this year.
In addition to the massive fiscal implications such an adjustment would set into motion, MacDonough opined that it would also be a “tremendous and enduring policy change that dwarfs its budgetary impact,” and thus would be ineligible for inclusion in a reconciliation bill.
Democrats, not surprisingly, were frustrated by the guidance from MacDonough, the nonpartisan interpreter of the upper chamber’s rules, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY indicating that he and his colleagues are “deeply disappointed,” but that they have “prepared alternate proposals and will be holding additional meetings with the Senate parliamentarian in the coming days.”
On the other side of the aisle, however, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was heartened by the opinion thwarting Democrats’ attempt to “shove massive amnesty” into their already-controversial spending plans, according to the New York Post.
“Senate rules never contemplated a majority circumventing the filibuster by pretending that sweeping and transformational new policies were mere budgetary changes,” McConnell said, adding, “Democratic leaders refused to resist their progressive base and stand up for the rule of law, even though our border has never been less secure.”
Even liberal Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) had to admit that the parliamentarian’s decision left his party with “limited” options, and unless Democrats are ready and willing to kill the chamber’s filibuster rules, they will – mercifully – be unable to do an end-run around the legislative deliberation and debate a profoundly critical matter such as immigration deserves.