Democrats and Republicans are pitching the Senate parliamentarian Wednesday in a crucial meeting for deciding what immigration plans will make it into Democrats' final social and climate spending bill.
Staffers for both Republicans and Democrats are meeting with parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough Wednesday morning to try to make their case for why Democrats' latest immigration plan either does - or for the GOP argument, doesn't - comply with strict budget rules that govern what can be included in the bill, a source confirmed to The Hill.
The meeting, which is expected to include staff from the Judiciary and Budget committees and leadership, comes after senators from both parties both met one-on-one informally with MacDonough.
Though staffers are meeting with MacDonough on Wednesday there's no guarantee that she'll make a decision by the end of the day or even this week.
But meeting with both sides simultaneously is the next step in the process to getting formal guidance from MacDonough. Because Democrats are using the budget reconciliation process to pass their spending bill without needing GOP votes they have to meet strict budget rules on what can be included. The most-well known requirement is that Democrats need to convince MacDonough that any policy included in the bill has an impact on federal spending and revenues and that its impact isn't "merely incidental" to its non-budgetary goals.
Democrats are trying to get MacDonough to sign off on their plan to grant 6.5 million foreign nationals a temporary parole status that would give them five-year work and travel permits, which was included in the bill passed by the House.
That's substantially narrower than immigration advocates hope for using the bill to provide a pathway to citizenship for some immigrants. But MacDonough has previously nixed two immigration plans that would have created a pathway to citizenship, finding that it was "not appropriate" for reconciliation.
If MacDonough finds that the latest Democratic plan doesn't comply with the budget rules, activists are urging Democrats to pick someone to preside over the Senate when the spending bill is being debated that would ignore guidance from the parliamentarian.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat and Judiciary Committee chairman, told reporters this week that MacDonough had not given on indication during her meeting with Democrats which way she was leaning on the latest immigration plan.
"I don't have any indication one way or the other. She kept it very close to the vest. Didn't react when we made our initial presentation," Durbin said, asked about the optimism from some of his colleagues.
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