Does President Biden really, really want an eight-million-member mass amnesty, as he says he does?
I’m beginning to doubt it.
The hidden message is in the matter of the Senate parliamentarian and her decision that no such provision can be allowed in the upcoming reconciliation bill, as my colleague Art Arthur and I have written about recently. Elizabeth MacDonough, who holds that position, has ruled that an amnesty is too far removed from strictly fiscal matters to be included as a rider in the pending, maybe up to $3.5 trillion, reconciliation bill.
Some people around the Hill say that one option the Democrats have — firing her — is about as acceptable as pouring the contents of a pitcher of beer on the altar. Unthinkable!
Well, it so happens, as the Washington Post has reminded us, that there is not only a precedent for such a firing, there is, happily for the Democrats, a Republican precedent.
In 2001, there was, as there is now, a 50-50 split in the Senate, but with a Republican vice president (then Dick Cheney) to break the tie. There was the same pressure on the GOP, as there is now on the Democrats, to pass important legislation without being stalled by a filibuster. As the Post reported: “But then-Senate Parliamentarian Robert Dove ruled that most of the tax cuts and a measure creating a $5 billion fund for natural disaster damage could not be considered using the reconciliation process.”
So the then GOP leader of the Senate, Trent Lott (R-Mo.) told the secretary of the Senate to fire the parliamentarian, and he was gone. Biden was in the Senate at the time and must remember that decision.
If Sen. Lott could ride out such a dispute, as he did, why couldn’t Biden and current Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) do the same thing?