The Senate parliamentarian made one thing clear in a Sunday ruling against including immigration in the budget reconciliation bill: She is here to stack the deck for Republicans. Republican policies that have relatively small budgetary impacts and outsized impacts can stay in reconciliation bills, according to Elizabeth MacDonough. Democratic policies, not so much.
“Senate Democrats have prepared alternate proposals and will be holding additional meetings with the Senate parliamentarian in the coming days,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement in response to MacDonough’s advice against including immigration in the planned $3.5 trillion bill. But given MacDonough’s opposition to including first a minimum wage increase and now immigration in reconciliation bills being put together by Democrats after she gave Republicans the go-ahead to include the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate penalties in their 2017 tax bill—neither of which had budget impacts remotely in line with their policy impacts—Senate Democrats have to internalize that the fix is in. And they have to respond accordingly.
Responding accordingly means that Democrats need to read and believe in a key line from the Congressional Research Service about the parliamentarian’s role: “The parliamentarians and their deputies/assistants only offer advice that the presiding Representative or Senator may accept or reject.” That means that, as David Nir wrote in February, “The presiding officer—that person who occupies the big chair atop the central dais you’ve seen on C-SPAN, either the vice president or a sitting senator—is free to reject that advice.” It has been done before.
In fact, Sen. Ted Cruz advocated exactly that in a 2017 effort to repeal Obamacare, saying, “You don’t have to override the parliamentarian or get a new parliamentarian. Under the statute, it is the vice president who rules. It is the presiding officer who makes the decision. The parliamentarian advises on that question.”
Democrats can do this without shattering precedent or emboldening Republicans to do things they otherwise would not have done should they regain the majority at some point. They were already going to do all of that. Shoot, when Cruz referred to “get[ting] a new parliamentarian,” he was most likely referring to then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott firing parliamentarian Bob Dove in 2001 because Dove was frustrating Republicans. The problem, of course, is that Democrats do not have votes to spare, and key Democrats are constantly looking for ways to undermine their party to fulfill their own questionable personal ambitions.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the immigration plan creating a path to citizenship for 8 million people would have a budgetary impact of more than $139 billion over 10 years, while Democrats have estimated it would add $1.5 trillion to the U.S. economy in that time and create more than 400,000 jobs. More to the point, it would do the right thing by those 8 million people, who include Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Dreamers brought to the country as children, people currently under Temporary Protected Status because their countries were affected by natural disasters or armed conflict, farmworkers, and millions of essential workers.
If Schumer and other Democrats have a plan to get MacDonough on board with a humane (and, yes, budget-relevant) immigration policy, that’s great. But they should go in understanding she has told them where she stands again and again, and it’s with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. That being the case, they should be ready to set her advice—key word there, advice—aside and move forward anyway.
From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.