President Joe Biden has done just about everything he can do to eliminate any vestiges of border and immigration enforcement (although he still may have a few tricks left up his sleeve). But the Holy Grail of full amnesty and a pathway to citizenship for just about every illegal alien in the United States is now tantalizingly just beyond the reach of the president and his allies in Congress. More specifically, an unelected parliamentarian is the only thing that stands between the Democratic leadership’s dream of a nation without borders or limits on immigration.
As we have seen since Democrats assumed full control of the federal government in January, they are willing to resort to any means necessary to carry out a radical agenda with only the narrowest of a mandate from voters. When Biden’s hard-working pen has proved insufficient, they have demonstrated a willingness to consider packing the Supreme Court, or even adding a state or two to ensure additional seats in the Senate.
Now a new tactic is emerging in pursuit of an all-encompassing amnesty for millions of illegal aliens. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, pushed by woke radicals, Big Tech and an unabashedly activist “news” media (which are not even really separate entities any more), is openly contemplating blowing up longstanding Senate rules to achieve a legislative goal that has scant public support.
Schumer is floating the idea of folding language that could grant millions of illegal aliens full amnesty into Biden’s already pork-laden infrastructure bill and getting it passed with just 51 votes (most likely with Kamala Harris casting the 51st vote). Under a maneuver known as “budget reconciliation,” the Senate can skirt the cloture rule, which requires a 60-vote majority to bring a bill to the floor, if the legislation in question would have a budgetary impact that is not “incidental.”
According to The New York Times, “Mr. Schumer has privately told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in recent weeks that he is ‘actively exploring’ whether it would be possible to attach a broad revision of immigration laws to President Biden’s infrastructure plan and pass it through a process known as budget reconciliation” as activists grow “worried that Democrats may squander a rare opportunity to legalize broad swaths of the undocumented population while their party controls both chambers of Congress and the White House.”
Ironically, reconciliation was intended to be used to clear obstructions to measures that would have a positive impact on the federal budget. In this case, it would be employed not only to jam through legislation that could never pass on its own merits, but one which is projected to drain the public treasury of trillions of dollars over the coming decades.
Second, Schumer’s gambit would test the elasticity of the Senate rule that requires amendments to bills to be germane to the legislation they are being attached to. Passing off immigrants as infrastructure might be a heavy lift, even for the silver-tongued senator from New York.
Adding significant muscle to this scorched earth effort to leverage the Democratic Party’s razor thin hold on federal power, is oodles of woke corporate money being thrown at the idea of breaking with traditional Senate rules. FWD.us – the pro-amnesty organization bankrolled by tech titans, most notably Mark Zuckerberg – announced that they would be blasting TV airwaves with a new ad imploring lawmakers to use budget reconciliation to give a pathway to citizenship for some eight million illegal aliens. Politico reports that FWD.us and other open-borders coalition groups are launching a $50 million effort pushing for amnesty for so-called “Dreamers,” Temporary Protected Status recipients, and farmworkers. FWD.us also tapped a former assistant Senate parliamentarian to help hone the procedural argument in favor of allowing the maneuver this year.
The Washington Post, owned, not coincidentally by another woke tech titan, Jeff Bezos, is also all-in on the idea of amnesty by any means necessary. Columnist (and Bezos employee) Greg Sargent cheered on the use of reconciliation as almost a religious duty, declaring that “Democrats need to be ready to act alone, God and the parliamentarian willing,” while dismissing Republican concerns about the impact of a massive amnesty in the midst of a border crisis triggered by Biden’s policies as “an utter crock.”
Divine intervention is unlikely, which could leave the fate of this desperate legislative Hail Mary in the hands of Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate parliamentarian. Not only will she decide whether amnesty for millions of illegal aliens is a legitimate budget issue – or whether human beings can rationally be considered infrastructure – her ruling may determine whether there will be any limits on immigration to the United States.
Ira Mehlman is media director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in Washington D.C.