Biden holding out for bipartisan support for immigration measures, White House says

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Michael Collins, USA TODAY
·3 min read
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WASHINGTON – The White House suggested Wednesday it isn’t ready to use special budget rules to push immigration measures through Congress.

Press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration remains focused on finding a bipartisan path forward on immigration instead of using a special budget procedure called reconciliation. The budget rule would allow Democrats to pass legislation with a simple majority vote in the Senate and without any Republican support.

President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats used reconciliation to approve a $1.9 trillion coronavirus-relief package in March without any Republican votes. Latino lawmakers are urging Biden to use the budget rules to push immigration legislation through the Senate if he is unable to win any GOP support for the proposals.

But Psaki indicated the White House isn’t ready to go that route yet.

“The conversation should not be about a reconciliation process,” she said. “It should be about moving forward in a bipartisan manner.”

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President Joe Biden speaks Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the White House in Washington, after former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.
President Joe Biden speaks Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the White House in Washington, after former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.

Psaki’s comments came amid reports that Biden told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus during a White House meeting on Tuesday that he would support moving immigration measures through the Senate with reconciliation.

The Democratic-led House voted last month to approve a bill that would create a pathway to citizenship for millions of "Dreamers," undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, with bipartisan support. The same day, lawmakers passed another bill to eventually grant legal status to nearly a million immigrant farmworkers and their families.

Both pieces of legislation have stalled in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed for most legislation to get around a Republican filibuster.

Biden also is pushing a comprehensive immigration bill – the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 – that would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants, with a shorter pathway available for farmworkers and recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA is a program that allows people brought to the country illegally as children to stay.

The comprehensive bill has yet to be put to a vote in the House.

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Latinos and progressive groups want Biden to include the “Dreamers” bill and the farmworkers legislation in a future reconciliation package, which would allow them to avert a filibuster and pass the proposals without any GOP support.

Pointing to past support among some Republicans for helping “Dreamers,” Psaki said Biden believes that modernizing the immigration system should warrant bipartisan backing.

“Of course, (Congress) members are going to propose a range of mechanics for moving things forward,” she said. “But his view is that the conversation right now should not be focused on reconciliation. It should be focused on finding a bipartisan path forward.”

Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden not ready to use budget reconciliation to pass immigration bills