Democrats on to “Plan C” in Immigration Reconciliation Push

October 08, 2021

Congressional Democrats’ third attempt to include immigration reform in the budget reconciliation bill does not include a path to citizenship but would include temporary legal status and work authorization for millions of undocumented immigrants.  Meanwhile, calls have grown to bypass rulings by the Senate Parliamentarian to exclude immigration reform from the package, a move which could also open the door to exceptions for other controversial measures.

To recap, the “Byrd Rule” prohibits provisions in reconciliation legislation that are viewed as extraneous to the budget.  Senate Democrats’ first attempt, which included a path to citizenship for 8 million undocumented immigrants, and second attempt, which would have covered around 6.7 million people, have both been roundly rejected by Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough. 

Several groups have urged Congress to sidestep the Senate Parliamentarian’s rulings on immigration, including by the Vice President in her capacity as the Presiding Officer of the Senate.  "When determining whether a provision is extraneous, the Presiding Officer may rely on the Senate Parliamentarian for expert advice," one group wrote.  "However, as past Parliamentarians have emphasized, the ultimate decision on a point of order lies with the Presiding Officer, subject to appeal to the full Senate."

What comes next:  There are indications that, assuming the Senate Parliamentarian strikes down Plan C, the push to include immigration provisions in the budget reconciliation bill is still far from over.  In an interview with CNN, Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) said, “There are two versions that have been shut down.  But we have five versions.  We predicted that the parliamentarian may shoot down a couple of the versions that we presented.  But there are three other versions.”  Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) is reportedly considering which of the options to pursue next.