Children are taught that in the American system of government, the legislature introduces a bill, the president may sign it or veto it (which Congress can override), and the Supreme Court determines if the bill is constitutional or not. Of course, the Framers didn't anticipate political parties (which are more important than the perceived differing interests between the different branches of government), the power of mass media to shape opinion, and, most importantly, the power the Supreme Court has awarded itself to impose vast social experiments. This power has now even spread to inferior courts.
Now, a new player has entered the game. This is the "Senate parliamentarian." (If the press is the "Fourth Estate" or "Fourth Branch of Government," I suppose this is the fifth.) The "Senate parliamentarian" decides what can be included under the "reconciliation" process, which allows the Senate to move quickly on budget legislation. The federal government continues its reckless spending, and so battles over raising the debt ceiling (which must be decided quickly lest the markets be spooked) are increasingly common.
Thus, this once marginal player has become a key power broker. The Senate Parliamentarian is supposedly nonpartisan, but hey, so is the Supreme Court. The current SP is Elizabeth MacDonough, who was appointed when the Democrats controlled the upper chamber in 2012 [Who Is The Senate Parliamentarian Who Ruled Against A Minimum Wage Increase, by Brakkton Booker, NPR, February 26, 2021]. However, she ruled against the Democrats earlier this year when they tried to include a minimum wage increase in an earlier COVID-19 relief package.
Senate Democrats tried the same trick and wanted to smuggle in a massive immigration amnesty under the latest "infrastructure" bill. MacDonough ruled against it. It may be no exaggeration that she has just saved America, what's left of it.
Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough on Sunday ruled against Democrats' plan to provide 8 million greencards as part of their $3.5 trillion spending bill, dealing a significant blow to Democrats' immigration reform chances.
MacDonough's guidance, a copy of which was obtained by The Hill, all but closes the door to Democrats using the spending bill to provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants.
MacDonough, in her guidance, warned that the Democratic plan doesn't meet the strict rules on what can be in the spending bill, calling the plan "by any standard a broad, new immigration policy."
"The policy changes of this proposal far outweigh the budgetary impact scored to it and it is not appropriate for inclusion in reconciliation," she wrote in the ruling obtained by The Hill, referring to the budget process Democrats are using to avoid the Senate filibuster.
[Senate parliamentarian nixes Democrats' immigration plan, by Jordain Carney, The Hill, September 19, 2021]
This will not be the end of the story. It might be the end of the institution instead. The Senate parliamentarian is technically an advisory role. Several months ago, Democratic Rep. Pramilia Jaypal said the White House and Senate should simply ignore her minimum wage ruling. Given the moral hysteria surrounding the immigration issue, I expect they'll be even more fanatical now.
The idea that a massive change to immigration policy should be randomly tacked on to a financial bill is obvious nonsense. Unfortunately, obvious nonsense has a way of becoming policy very quickly these days.
However, events have transpired so that the Democrats may not feel bold enough to overturn Senate precedent to ram through more illegal immigration. Though the Main Stream Media is largely ignoring it, the scenes of thousands of Haitians overrunning the southern border and being let loose into the country, in the middle of a pandemic, won't play well in the midterm elections. Even National Review (perhaps responding to grassroots pressure) is arguing that opposition to mass immigration should be at the center of the GOP's fight against the second, Democrats-only, "human infrastructure" bill [The Immigration Radicalism of the Democratic Reconciliation Bill, September 19, 2021].
Whether Conservatism Inc. and the GOP like it or not, the Republican base is concerned about immigration [Republican Views on Immigration Are Shifting Even Further To The Right Under Biden, by Michael Tesler, FiveThirtyEight, August 17, 2021]. The American Right must fight on this issue and if it acts, it can win over the people.
The absurdity of admitting thousands of immigrants into the country while trying to force vaccine mandates on American citizens is self-evident. Anarcho-tyranny is no longer a theory, but a far more accurate description of the way the federal government works than the Constitution is. Many Americans are finally beginning to notice.
However, we must admit that one of the traditional institutions saved the day here. Immigration patriots have a great opportunity to put this issue front and center. Is there one ambitious man or woman who is willing to fight for the United States? If so, he or she now has a chance, because the Senate parliamentarian has given the Republic a stay of execution.