The $3.5 trillion budget proposal unveiled by Senate Democrats on Monday would earmark $107 billion in funding toward immigration initiatives, including the development of a pathway to citizenship for immigrants.
Under the budget proposal, the Senate Judiciary Committee would receive the $107 billion in part to pursue “lawful permanent status for qualified immigrants.” The committee also would be directed to pursue “investments in smart and effective border security measures.”
The proposal does not specify how many people would be granted legal status nor identifies which border security measures would be pursued. However, a summary of the budget resolution suggests it would provide “green cards to millions of immigrant workers and families.”
The budget proposal drew a sharp condemnation from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who referred to the package as a “monstrosity” that would hurt the economy and said the immigration proposal would grant “sweeping amnesty when the southern border is already in crisis.”
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Republicans and Democrats have clashed for months over how to respond to the immigration crisis at the southern border. GOP lawmakers say President Biden’s move to reverse Trump-era immigration policies has exacerbated the crisis, while Biden officials say the president inherited a broken system.
Last month, Biden said his staff would inform Democratic lawmakers that “we should include in the reconciliation bill the immigration proposal” amid Republican resistance.
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Democrats are aiming to pass the $3.5 trillion budget proposal through reconciliation, which would allow passage through a simple majority vote rather than the standard 60-vote threshold. The package includes Biden-backed initiatives that weren’t included in the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, including investments in universal preschool, clean energy and affordable housing.
The $3.5 trillion package is unlikely to draw support from Republicans, who have argued for months that Democratic policy initiatives are too costly and likely to hurt the country’s long-term economic prospects. President Biden has called for tax hikes on corporations and wealthiest Americans to pay for Democratic legislative priorities.
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Under the reconciliation process, Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough – a nonpartisan official who oversees senatorial procedure – has final say on which proposals can be included in the final package. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. instructed the committees to craft their portions of the package by Sept. 15.
“At its core, this legislation is about restoring the middle class in the 21st Century and giving more Americans the opportunity to get there,” Schumer said in a letter to lawmakers.