President Biden threw his weight Thursday behind a push to add a major amnesty for illegal immigrants into Democrats’ budget proposal, delivering presidential heft to the effort.
“I think we should include in the reconciliation bill the immigration proposal,” the president told reporters after meeting with Senate Democrats on immigration.
Reconciliation is the process that allows budget-related programs to be passed without having to survive a filibuster. But there are also significant restrictions on what kinds of things can be done through reconciliation.
Mr. Biden didn’t say what that proposal was, though there are several options. He has called for a legalization that could apply to all 11 million estimated illegal immigrants in the country, but there are also slimmer proposals to legalize 4 million farm workers, “Dreamers” and others here under temporary protections.
Both options would be heavy lifts, particularly at a time when the country’s southern border is in chaos, with an unprecedented surge of illegal immigrant children, families and single adults.
With Republicans certain to be opposed to a reconciliation package, Democrats would need to get all 50 members of their Senate caucus on board, and rely on Vice President Kamala Harris to cast a tie-breaking vote in order to clear the plan through the Senate.
Reconciliation is also the vehicle for Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending plan for everything from combatting climate change to child care programs, and adding immigration to that mix could prove too much weight for the package.