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The House’s progressive wing is once again demanding that Democrats in the Senate ignore the chamber’s parliamentarian and push through legislation granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens in the current “Build Back Better” reconciliation bill that still does not have universal party support.
“The Senate needs to step up, override the parliamentarian, okay. The parliamentarian is not elected. It is not an elected position and the parliamentarian has been overridden and dismissed in the past,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), told about 150 activists gathered Tuesday on the steps of the Capitol.
“We will not surrender our power to an unelected parliamentarian,” Ocasio-Cortez noted further. “Our demand is for the Senate to override the parliamentarian, include a full path to citizenship, and send it back to the House.”
House and Senate Democrats want to use their slim majorities to push through a path to citizenship measure that Ocasio-Cortez called “ventana de oportunidad,” which is Spanish for “window of opportunity.”
If Democrats were to remain united, they will be able to pass the reconciliation measure with the amnesty with 51 votes — all 50 of theirs plus a tiebreaker cast by Vice President Kamala Harris. But for now, reconciliation measures are subjected to what is known as the “Byrd Rule,” which prohibits provisions that have an undue fiscal impact. Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough is charged with deciding which provisions of reconciliation bills fall under the rule and therefore must be taken out.
So far, Senate Democratic leaders have abided by MacDonough’s rulings; she has already stricken a number of immigration provisions from the current ‘Build Back Better’ legislation.
That said, House progressives, as well as immigration activists, have pressed Senate Democrats to fire MacDonough or just ignore her, noting that in 2001, Republicans who controlled the chamber fired the parliamentarian over a disagreement with a ruling.
“This is not what we have been fighting for over three decades across this country,” said Rep. Chuy Garcia, D-Ill., of the immigration measure that was contained in the House version of the BBB bill, but has been scaled back in the Senate version to comply with the Byrd Rule.
That said, it does not appear like the measure is going to pass in any form satisfactory to House progressives. With an evenly split Senate, it’s almost certain that at least one Democrat would vote not to overrule or fire MacDonough. What’s more, not all Democrats are currently on board with the massive spending package anyway; Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia have objected to various aspects of the bill and its overall cost, with the latter concerned a new injection of federal dollars into the economy will cause inflation to spike again.
For his part, Manchin has said that the legislation may not even pass this year.
“The unknown we’re facing today is much greater than the need that people believe in this aspirational bill that we’re looking at,” he told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. “We’ve gotta make sure we get this right. We just can’t continue to flood the market, as we’ve done.”
“We’ve done so many good things in the last 10 months, and no one is taking a breath,” he added.
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