This came down on a Sunday night so you might expect this headline to be clickbait, but apparently, the Senate parliamentarian was working on the weekend, and a major blow was indeed landed.
The setup here is that Democrats have inserted a “pathway to citizenship” for millions of illegal immigrants into their boondoggle reconciliation bill. How that qualified as a budgetary measure was always anyone’s guess, and per a surprise announcement from the parliamentarian, it doesn’t.
This is a blow to Dems who widely viewed the social spending plan as their best chance at getting immigration reform through this Congress https://t.co/GpbSKeN51a
— Marianne LeVine (@marianne_levine) September 19, 2021
BREAKING: Senate parliamentarian says $3.5T bill can’t include citizenship path for illegal immigrants, big blow to Biden, Dems – AP
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) September 20, 2021
This is obviously the correct ruling as there’s no justification for the idea that immigration reform falls under budget reconciliation. In some ways, it’s surprising Democrats even tried this stunt given how unlikely it was to succeed, but you can never fault them for staying on the offense. Republicans might learn a thing or two on that front.
Regardless, the political dynamics of this are interesting because it throws up another roadblock for far-left support, with Bernie Sanders, Rashida Tlaib, etc. saying that anything less than what’s on the table right now is unacceptable.
Here’s Ilhan Omar suggesting the Senate simply ignore the ruling.
We can’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to do the right thing. https://t.co/r1T7T7uQIP
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) September 20, 2021
To be sure, the ruling is not just a “recommendation.” Yes, Democrats could theoretically, with VP Kamala Harris, overrule it, but the votes to do that simply don’t exist. There is no planet on which Joe Manchin votes to ignore the Senate parliamentarian, especially when the latter is so obviously right in their ruling. And while Manchin is the public face of moderation on this front, there are many other Democrats quietly hiding behind his stance who agree.
All of this is going to pour gasoline on the Democrats’ civil war, something that was already raging over the overall spending levels in the reconciliation bill. Manchin wants between $1-1.5 trillion while the far-left want over double that. Now, one of the big “wins” for the far-left has been struck down before the voting even begins. At what point do the radicals just throw their hands up and say they aren’t budging? Remember, these are elected officials from deeply blue districts with nothing to lose and plenty of good press to gain.
I was skeptical, but more and more, I’m thinking reconciliation doesn’t get done, at least not in anything close to the form it was originally presented in. With the debt ceiling battle coming up, that will be another point of contention and a point of leverage for Manchin, Sinema, etc. to bolster their opposition. Things are falling apart for the “majority” party, and it couldn’t happen to a better group of people.