Democrats are planning amnesty, along with a path to citizenship, for illegal immigrants, The Washington Times reports. They concocted a scheme to bypass the filibuster rules and incorporate it into the $3.5 trillion budget package.
The cost of 8 million illegals will likely break social security and other benefit programs.
Top aides to Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York leftist Democrat, have privately presented arguments to Elizabeth MacDonough, the chamber’s parliamentarian, as to why legalizing illegal immigrants is a valid exercise of what’s known in Washington as “budget reconciliation.”
The process allows measures that deal with spending, revenue, and the federal debt limit to avoid the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold and pass via a simple majority.
Senate Democrats argue that legalizing 8 million migrants would make them automatically eligible for federal benefits, which would deeply impact the federal budget. That’s one of the key tests for shoehorning policies into the reconciliation process, according to the newspaper.
“A pathway to citizenship is compatible with reconciliation,” said a senior Democratic aide, who requested anonymity to discuss the behind-the-scenes maneuvering. “The act of adding people, many of whom already pay taxes, to the federal rolls will have an immediate and direct impact on the budget.”
An immigration lawyer by training, Ms. MacDonough has served as the Senate’s parliamentarian since 2012. As the parliamentarian, she is tasked with interpreting whether legislative actions are permissible under the Senate’s long-standing rules and precedents.
The Parliamentarian has a lot of power.
The Byrd Rule prohibits “extraneous matter” from being included within reconciliation. That rules out changes to Social Security, policies where the effects on revenue or spending are only incidental, and anything that would increase the deficit beyond the window of the budget.
Ms. MacDonough used the criteria earlier this year to block Democrats from including an increase in the federal minimum wage within reconciliation.
Senate Democrats are pushing for a different outcome on immigration, and they say there’s a precedent.
A parliamentarian in 2005 allowed Republicans to include an immigration provision within that year’s reconciliation package. Although that measure dealt only with unused green cards quotas, Democrats are eager to invoke the precedent.
“Obviously, we’re going to have to meet the reconciliation standards,” said the Democratic aide. “But that’s how you win procedural battles: You find small openings in the rules and push to expand them to meet your goals.”
A recent report published by the Center for Immigration Studies indicates that adding 8 million immigrants to the federal rolls would cost Social Security and Medicare more than $1 trillion, which could violate the rule about not increasing the deficit beyond the budget window.
“It seems that these long-term costs could impact whether the reconciliation bill meets the requirement of not increasing deficits after 10-years,” wrote Jason Richwine, a resident scholar at the center.