Senate Parliamentarian Rejects Placing Amnesty in Build Back Better Act


Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough rejected a plan from Democrats on Thursday to include immigration reform in the Build Back Better Act, The Hill reported.

The parliamentarian position is nonpartisan and focused on interpreting the upper chamber’s rules. It is often referred to as the ”Senate referee,” according to NPR.

MacDonough informed the Democratic Caucus that immigration reform, under current rules, does not meet acceptability for what can be included in a budget measure that bypasses filibuster.

The parliamentarian, who was selected for the custodian role in 2012, had rejected two recent plans from Democrats that would have provided a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants in the Build Back Better Act, per The Hill. The third plan would have granted 6.5 million foreign nationals a temporary parole status.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said that he was disappointed in the decision and that the Democratic Caucus was ”considering what options are available.”

Although the advice from MacDonough is not legally binding, senators have rarely sidestepped the parliamentarian’s decision since the creation of the position in 1935. The most recent example of overruling the Senate parliamentarian occurred over 45 years ago by Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, in 1975.

Progressives such as Durbin have indicated support to formally overrule MacDonough and replace her with a more loyal parliamentarian, according to The Hill.

Overruling the parliamentarian requires only a simple majority but would likely fall short with dissent from centrist Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, according to The Hill.