House

Omar urges Biden, Schumer to disregard parliamentarian on immigration

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is calling on Democratic leaders to disregard a recent ruling by the Senate parliamentarian disallowing prominent immigration reforms - a key element of the Democrats' $3.5 trillion domestic agenda - to be included in the massive package.

The ruling by Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, announced Sunday evening, marked a sharp setback to President Biden's first-year agenda, which includes an effort to provide green cards to millions of immigrants.

Omar, a member of the informal liberal group known as the "squad," suggested Monday that the best way to respond to the ruling is simply to ignore it.

"This ruling by the parliamentarian, is only a recommendation. @SenSchumer and the @WhiteHouse can and should ignore it," Omar tweeted, referring to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). "We can't miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to do the right thing."

Biden, on the campaign trail, had made immigration reform a major priority after a string of previous administrations have promised - and failed - to overhaul an immigration system that all sides maintain is broken.

As part of the $3.5 trillion spending bill currently moving its way through Congress, Democrats are attempting to do just that. Their package includes provisions providing legal status, and the potential for eventual citizenship, for millions of undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children. The legislation would also provide green cards to other groups of immigrants, including farmworkers and those who have been granted Temporary Protected Status due to perilous conditions in their home countries.

Yet MacDonough found that those policy changes flout the Senate's reconciliation rules, which Democrats are using to move the $3.5 trillion package without Republican support.

"The policy changes of this proposal far outweigh the budgetary impact scored to it and it is not appropriate for inclusion in reconciliation," she wrote in the ruling.

Omar was not alone in criticizing the guidance. Schumer said he's "deeply disappointed" in the ruling and vowed to find other ways to get Biden's immigration agenda enacted.

"Senate Democrats have prepared alternate proposals and will be holding additional meetings with the Senate parliamentarian in the coming days," Schumer said in a statement.

It's hardly the first time MacDonough has frustrated Democrats with her rulemaking - nor the first time liberals have pushed back with recommendations to dismiss her.

In February, MacDonough issued guidance preventing Democrats from including a mandatory $15 federal minimum wage in an enormous package providing economic and health care relief from the coronavirus pandemic. The move brought howls from progressives, who wrote to Biden urging him to "refute" the ruling and press ahead with the wage hike.

He declined, and the wage remains at $7.25 per hour.

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