Senate Won’t Overrule Parliamentarian On Immigration, Dick Durbin Says

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Senate Democrats will not overturn a Parliamentarian ruling preventing them from including a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants in their reconciliation package, the Build Back Better Act.

“I don’t believe that’s realistic,” Democratic Illinois Sen. and Majority Whip Dick Durbin told CNN’s Manu Raju on Monday. “I think the votes needed on the floor are not there.”

The Senate Parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, wrote on Sunday night that changing immigration law would be a “tremendous and enduring policy change that dwarfs its budgetary impact.” Therefore, she ruled, it could not be included under budget reconciliation legislation under the Byrd Rule. Under the Byrd Rule, legislation passed via the reconciliation process must be directly related to the budget. (RELATED: Democrats Want To Use Budget Reconciliation A Second Time. How Would It Work?)

Left-wing Democrats in the House renewed calls to ignore MacDonough’s ruling, which could be done by the Senate’s presiding officer or a 60 vote majority or replace her with a Parliamentarian who would rule more favorable to Democrats. Both options are extremely unlikely.

“This ruling by the parliamentarian is only a recommendation,” Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted. “Sen. Schumer and the White House can and should ignore it.”

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez claimed that Democrats have “options” in dealing with MacDonough. Those included firing or overruling her, or adjusting the legislation.

Durbin said during a speech on the Senate floor that Democrats would provide an “alternative proposal” on immigration that would be allowed under reconciliation rules, but he did not go into detail.

“We already know how essential immigrants are to America, and our economic future,” he said. “They are Americans in every way except for their official legal status. It’s far past time to fix that, and that’s exactly what Senate Democrats intend to do through budget reconciliation.”

MacDonough’s immigration ruling is the second time she has disappointed Democrats in 2021. She ruled in February that Democrats could not include a minimum wage hike in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which they also passed via reconciliation.