The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that Democrats can’t stick a legalization program for illegal immigrants into President Biden’s budget bill, putting the party in a political bind as it tries to move forward.
Sen. Richard Durbin, Democrats’ lead immigration negotiator, said the parliamentarian found the plan extended “just too many rights” to illegal immigrants to be able to pass muster under the rules of the budget.
He pronounced himself “disappointed.”
The option under consideration was Democrats’ “Plan C.”
Two previous plans to offer a firm pathway to U.S. citizenship to illegal immigrants had already been shot down by the parliamentarian, who said citizenship was a major policy debate that didn’t fit inside the budget, which is supposed to be focused on fiscal matters.
Democrats came back with a plan that offered a deportation amnesty but no lasting permanent legal status, hoping that would avoid the big policy questions, but the parliamentarian said it was too similar, Mr. Durbin said.
The ruling is a profound blow to immigrant-rights activists, who had begged Democrats to come up with some way to grant a legal foothold in the country to 8 million or so illegal immigrants.
Many of those groups now will demand that Democrats ignore the parliamentarian and stick the immigration provisions in the bill, using the power of the gavel to rule that the policy does fit budget rules.
Key Democratic senators have said they won’t go along with that plan. But other Democrats, particularly in the House, have said they won’t vote for a bill that doesn’t include immigration protections.
That leaves Democratic leaders with another headache related to the $1.75 trillion budget bill, which covers everything from climate change spending to tax credits and child care.