Democrats Weigh Plan to Muscle Through Immigration Changes

Senate Democrats are weighing plans to speed some components of a stalled immigration overhaul through the Senate later this year as part of a broad Democrat-only measure with much of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda.

The idea was discussed Wednesday at a meeting between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and all 11 Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee, said one of the participants, Tim Kaine of Virginia. The lawmakers met to craft strategy for a 2022 fiscal blueprint that could enable other legislation to clear the Senate with just 50 votes -- short-circuiting a likely Republican filibuster of a series of costly Biden agenda items.

Democrats Weigh Plan to Muscle Through Immigration Changes

Kaine said that providing a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants might be used to help offset the costs of other Biden proposals, which include a vast expansion of spending for child care, elder care and climate change improvements. He said that during President George W. Bush’s administration the Congressional Budget Office found providing legal status to some undocumented immigrants would bring in more government revenue.

“Any time there’s been a CBO examination of what immigration reform would do, it produces a significant increase in the GDP without really costing much money,” Kaine said.

Using a fast-track, partisan process to bypass GOP opposition and enact a path to citizenship for millions of unauthorized immigrants has been pushed by some immigration advocates who say they have no faith that Republicans would back long-sought immigration law changes.

It would have two advantages for Democrats -- they’d potentially be able to accomplish a longstanding and long-elusive priority while using the revenue immigration would bring to offset spending on other priorities. Yet it would require all 50 Democrats to be on board and require clearing a parliamentary thicket of rules intended to prevent the inclusion of items not related to the budget.

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