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A group of House Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., penned a letter urging the Senate’s Democratic leadership to ignore the Senate Parliamentarian ruling that a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants cannot be included in a budget reconciliation bill.
“We do understand that the Senate Parliamentarian has issued a memorandum dismissing — despite evidence to the contrary — the budgetary impact of providing a pathway to citizenship,” the read the letter, which was dated Monday and signed by Ocasio-Cortez and 89 House Democrats, reads. “But the role of the Parliamentarian is an advisory one, and the Parliamentarian’s opinion is not binding.”
President Biden‘s Build Back Better Act, a $2 trillion social spending bill that passed the House last week, includes a provision that would provide a pathway to citizenship to many illegal immigrants by granting them a five-year parole status.
But the provision faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where the Senate Parliamentarian ruled in September that its inclusion does not follow budget reconciliation rules, which state that only policies that directly change federal spending and revenue can be included in the bills.
Democrats have been forced to use budget reconciliation in an attempt to pass Biden’s massive spending plan in the Senate, where the party does not have enough votes to overcome a filibuster that would doom traditional legislation. Under reconciliation, a bill needs only a majority instead of the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster.
But strict Senate rules about how budget reconciliation can be used limit what Democrats can have in the legislation, putting the House’s inclusion of a pathway to citizenship in jeopardy in the upper chamber.
But the House Democrats argue that the Senate should ignore the Parliamentarian, arguing that a pathway to citizenship has a “massive budgetary impact.”
“The reconciliation bill is an especially suitable vehicle for providing” a pathway to citizenship, the letter argues. “One need look no further than the previous CBO scores for the same proposal to know that providing a pathway to citizenship would have a massive budgetary impact.”
The lawmakers went on to argue that “federal law and Senate precedent provide that the Senate’s Presiding Officer can issue a different binding ruling” than the Parliamentarian, while warning Senate Democrats not to “let an unelected advisor determine which promises we fulfill and which we do not.”
“The moment is now,” the letter reads. “We urge you to reinstate a pathway to citizenship for Dreams, TPS holder, farm workers, and essential workers in the Senate’s version of the reconciliation bill.”