Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled on Sunday that it is "not appropriate" for Democrats to include an immigration reform effort in their budget bill.
Democrats had been wanting to include a pathway to citizenship for 8 million people in a reconciliation bill, which only needs a simple majority to pass the Senate; they argued that making millions of people citizens would have a major, positive impact on the economy. The Senate parliamentarian is nonpartisan and rules on technical issues, and MacDonough wrote that she found such a "tremendous and enduring policy change ... dwarfs its budgetary impact."
MacDonough, who came to her decision after speaking with Democratic and Republican lawmakers, added that this would also "set a precedent that could be used to argue that rescinding any immigration status from anyone — not just those who obtain (legal permanent resident) status by virtue of this provision — would be permissible because the policy of stripping status from any immigrant does not vastly outweigh whatever budgetary impact there might be."
In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Democrats are "deeply disappointed," but the "fight to provide lawful status for immigrants in budget reconciliation continues. Senate Democrats have prepared alternate proposals and will be holding additional meetings with the Senate parliamentarian in the coming days."