The Senate parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, has rejected the Democratic plan to include immigration reform on the proposed social spending bill known as the Build Back Better Act. As a result, Democratic legislators struggle to find an alternative way to enact the desired reform.

The bill, which was passed by the House, included a provision for approximately 6.5 million undocumented immigrants. It would extend these individuals’ work permits and provide temporary protection against deportation. However, the parliamentarian has ruled that this provision does not comply with the Senate’s regulations.

Previously, MacDonough had already ruled that Democrats could not include a path to legal immigration status in the Build Back Better Act. She rejected the second attempt for immigration reform on the bill, in which Democrats sought to alter the date on a decades-old registry law, which would enable more undocumented immigrants to pursue legal status.

Republicans are celebrating the parliamentarian’s decision to reject immigration reform on the bill. However, with the current lack of bipartisan talks on immigration reform, Democrats had looked to the Build Back Better Act as the best way to advance the reform.

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After the ruling, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), and Senators Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada), Alex Padilla (D-California) and Ben Ray Luján (D-New Mexico), stated they “strongly disagreed” with MacDonough’s decision. The Senators say that they will “to pursue every means to achieve a path to citizenship” in the Build Back Better Act.

Durbin has called the parliamentarian’s decision “disappointing.” He said that MacDonough has used the “same reasoning” in this decision as with her previous decisions. He added that Democrats are currently “considering what options remain,” and that it is as yet unclear what Democrats plan to do in order to advance immigration reform after this roadblock.

Though the parliamentarian’s decision has reignited calls to ignore her advice, Democrats likely lack the votes to do so.

With or without the inclusion of immigration reform, the social spending bill will need to face major revisions in order to pass. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) announced on Sunday that he will not provide his necessary vote to support the bill due to budget concerns. As a result, the bill will not pass in 2021, and will need to undergo many changes in order to succeed in the new year.

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