An attempt by Senate Democrats to work immigration reform into a sweeping social spending failed Thursday evening after the chamber’s rule keeper nixed the move.
Congress is currently considering the Build Back Better bill that’s at the center of President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda. Previously, Democrats had twice sought to include a provision that would provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, reports The Hill.
Each attempt was thwarted by Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, who determined the provision conflicted with the arcane rules Democrats are relying on to shepherd the bill to passage, the paper reports. On Thursday, MacDonough rejected the third attempt that was scaled back to grant 6.5 million foreign nationals a temporary parole status and a five-year work and travel permit.
The Senate is split 50-50, and Republicans are in lock-step opposition to the bill. Democrats are attempting to pass Build Back Better using budget reconciliation. The procedure is immune to the filibuster, but Senate rules limit its scope to budget and tax measures.
Immigration reform has been stubbornly elusive for presidents and congressional leaders of both parties. On Thursday it remained so.
“These are substantial policy changes with lasting effects just like those we previously considered and outweigh the budgetary impact,” MacDonough said in her ruling regarding the immigration provision, according to CNN.
Democrats reacted with disappointment. A White House spokesperson told CNN that the ruling means an “uncertain and frightening future” for millions.
A group of Democratic senators issued a statement saying they would continue to press for a path to citizenship in Build Back Better.
“The American people understand that fixing our broken immigration system is a moral and economic imperative, and we stand with the millions of immigrant families across the country who deserve better and for whom we will not stop fighting,” they said in the statement.
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