Democrats present case to legalize immigrants through budget bill

The slim Democratic majority in Congress is pushing forward with an ambitious plan to legalize an estimated 8 million immigrants living in the U.S. without legal status through a budget bill that would circumvent the 60-vote threshold typically needed to pass major legislation in the Senate.

Democratic staff were expected to meet with the Senate parliamentarian on Friday to convince her that the massive legalization program can be enacted through the budget reconciliation process, a procedure that allows spending bills to pass the Senate with a simple majority, four congressional officials told CBS News. Republican staff were expected to argue against the proposal.

It’s the Senate parliamentarian who rules on whether an element of legislation can be allowed in a budget bill. The parliamentarian has to determine whether the provision has a direct budgetary impact.

If successful, the legalization plan would allow undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries, farmworkers and other pandemic-era essential workers to apply for permanent U.S. residency, or green cards, Democratic Senate aides said.

Democratic aides said their proposal complies with the reconciliation rules. Historically, provisions that the Senate parliamentarian determined would have an “incidental” impact on the budget have collapsed, including a plan to raise the minimum wage in February.

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