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“It’s Game On”

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Democrats gear up to deliver a legislative breakthrough on citizenship

Washington, DC – We’ve been calling for Democrats to use every ounce of their majority to deliver a long-overdue breakthrough on citizenship bills by using a 51-vote vehicle. It now appears that it’s game on.

Pelosi: “There Ain’t No Infrastructure Bill Without the Reconciliation Bill” 

Democratic leadership is taking a both/and approach to bipartisan and Democrats-only packages.

A bipartisan group of Senators reached a tentative agreement yesterday to fund a narrower infrastructure package. Meanwhile, Democrats who lead the budget committees in both chambers are gearing up for a broader Democratic package that includes Democratic coalition priorities on jobs, care, climate and citizenship. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters last night, “We’re all on the same page. Both tracks. The bipartisan track, and the budget reconciliation track are proceeding in pace.” And as Speaker Pelosi said this morning, “There ain’t no infrastructure bill without the reconciliation bill.”  

House and Senate Budget Committees Set to Include Citizenship

Earlier this week, Roll Call reported that Senate Budget Chair Bernie Sanders had included funds for citizenship for millions as part of Senate Democrats’ budget outline. This is the first step toward inclusion in a reconciliation package. As the Senate committee document notes, “including such policies in a reconciliation bill would likely pass muster with the Senate parliamentarian, citing a 2005 precedent for Senate-passed provisions to increase the number of immigrant visas in similar fashion.”

Today, another Roll Call story describes action in the House: “Yarmuth: House budget blueprint won’t veer too far from Senate’s.” The piece notes that “House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth said Democrats in his chamber may be zeroing in on a budget blueprint that would allow for more than $5 trillion in new spending over 10 years, and that ultimately he and his Senate counterpart are working on similar tracks that could avoid a time-consuming conference.”

Translation? It’s game on. Democrats are now publicly committed to putting together a Democrats-only package and to pursuing the processes that will enable major legislation to pass with 51 votes in the Senate. And it is now expected that the budget proposals in both chambers will include measures to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

Here we go. For months, the immigrant justice movement has sought a path to victory on citizenship legislation that relies on the strong support of Democratic champions and not the bad faith of Republican pretenders. That path is now opening up as Democrats move to develop a human infrastructure bill that includes jobs, care, climate and citizenship and can pass the Senate with 51 votes.

A strong bipartisan majority of Americans overwhelmingly support citizenship for millions of Dreamers, TPS holders, farm workers, and other essential workers. But that doesn’t mean Republicans in the Senate are going to listen to a majority of Americans, or even a majority of Republicans. The GOP is intent on blocking immigration policy solutions in 2021 so they can run on immigration in 2022. They are not interested in progress, they are interested in power. 

Sure, expect Senator John Cornyn to propose a process and some policies to make it look like there’s a chance at bipartisan agreement. But we won’t be fooled. He’s made the same move in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2013 and 2018. It’s always the same. Pretend yes; get to no; delay and derail; make it seem like Democrats are the partisans who are responsible for failure.

In contrast, Democrats are gearing up to go big, go now, and deliver results that change lives. They’ve made it clear they are prepared to work with Republicans when they agree, and go it alone when they don’t. That is exactly why a solid majority of Americans voted to give them the keys to White House and the Congress.

It’s game on.