How the Congress Spending Bill Affects U.S. Immigration Policy

Washington, D.C. – Last month, after more than 14 hours, the $3.5 trillion budget resolution was approved by the Senate in a 50-49 party-line vote. This is the first step towards the creation of a bill that covers a social spending plan in climate change, child care, education, healthcare and immigration. 

Democrats included more than $100 billion to create a pathway to U.S. citizenship for millions of immigrants, people with temporary protected status, DACA recipients, immigrant essential workers, and farm workers. 
Democrats made the case earlier this month that their immigration proposal has a positive impact on deferral spending, revenues or debt before it can become a law and be implemented. The non-partisan Senate parliamentarian ruled it “not appropriate” – putting a wrench in Democrats’ plans for a path to legal residency.

What is a budget reconciliation?

Generally, in order to pass a bill to become a law, it needs to pass both the House of Representatives and the Senate. In the House of Representatives, a bill passes when half of the representatives plus one vote in favor of the legislation. Even more complex, more than half of the Senate has to support the legislation in order to become a bill.

Therefore, budget reconciliations were made to help Congress pass specifically – budget bills, but can usually be used once a year. In terms of support, a budget reconciliation needs 51 votes in the senate, instead of 60 – which makes it attractive for lawmakers, and they can use this opportunity to work on the leading party’s agenda.

What happens next?

Congress returned from recess on September 21st and now both the House of Representatives and Senate are drafting the detailed policies to include in the final budget reconciliation bill. In parallel, the Senate Judiciary Committee will be working on the immigration part of the bill. Once this period is completed, both houses will vote and decide if the bill will pass.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi shared a statement committing to passing the legislation by September 27, 2021. Many doubt this can happen by the deadline. As Sen. Joe Manchin said during a CNN interview: “There’s no way that we can get this done by the 27th if we do our job.” 

The last step, once it is passed by the House and Senate and demonstrates that it will have a positive impact on the US economy and meets all budgetary requirements, it will need President’s Biden signature to start working on implementation and see results.

Organizations and immigrants rights supporters expressed their opinions on the budget reconciliation’s pathway to citizenship with the hashtag #WeAreHome.

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