Originally Published in The Hill
Tal Axelrod - February 18, 2021
The remarks come after the introduction of the immigration proposal, which seeks to deliver on a list of Biden’s campaign promises, including providing a path to citizenship for the young people brought to the U.S by their parents as children, allowing immigrant farmworkers and those with Temporary Protected Status to swiftly obtain green cards and allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for green cards after five years.
The bill has garnered broad opposition from Republicans, though some in the GOP support specific aspects of the legislation, raising the prospect that the proposal could be broken up to deliver smaller victories.
“I salute the president for putting forth the legislation that he did. There are others who want to do piecemeal, and that may be a good approach too. That’s up to the Congress to decide,” Pelosi said at her press conference Thursday.
Pelosi said Democrats could seek to pass the bill through the budget resolution process, which would let the party avoid the 60-vote filibuster in the Senate and approve it with a simple 51-vote majority, but questioned whether the legislation would qualify for the process.
“There are people who are advocating for that, and the question is would that meet the Byrd Rule and those other kind of things,” she said, referencing a requirement that a piece of legislation has an effect on the federal budget and that it is not “merely incidental" to that effect in order to qualify to pass through reconciliation. “And if it would, that would be wonderful, because then we wouldn’t need the 60 votes.”
Biden has also reportedly expressed openness to breaking up his overall proposal to try to pass something through Congress, where Democrats have narrow majorities in both chambers.
Immigration reform bills have long languished on Capitol Hill over fierce disagreements between Democrats and Republicans over how to overhaul the way migrants enter the U.S. The issue further polarized lawmakers during the Trump administration after then-President Trump pushed for the creation of a border wall with Mexico and imposed stringent restrictions on immigrants and refugees entering the U.S.
Pelosi praised Biden’s immigration proposal, saying welcoming more immigrants would strengthen the country.
“Immigrants coming to our country, with newcomers coming with their new hopes and dreams and aspirations, with their optimism and determination to make the future better for their families, well, those are American traits,” she said. “And when they come here with those values, they make America more American.”