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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Comprehensive immigration reform is a pipe dream, but some Senate Democrats are hoping to tie key immigration provisions to the next big reconciliation push.

Why it matters: Immigration is one of the most controversial and partisan issues in U.S. politics, which is why the budget reconciliation process — which allows for bills to pass the Senate with a simple majority rather than the usual 60 votes — is so attractive.

  • Democrats want to use it to force hundreds of thousands of green cards for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status holders and essential workers.

Driving the news: Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced Tuesday that the House will soon vote on a bill offering pathways to citizenship for Dreamers and TPS holders, as well as a second bill providing green cards for unauthorized immigrant farmworkers.

  • These two bills should sail through the House but would face an uphill battle in the 50-50 Senate.

What we're hearing: If the measures fail to get the 10 Republican votes needed to meet the 60-vote Senate threshold, some Democrats hope to tack them on to whatever infrastructure and economic recovery package evolves this spring.

  • Top Senate Democrats have already signaled they plan to use the reconciliation process to pass Biden's mammoth infrastructure bill, which would allow it to pass via simple majority vote.
  • Democratic lawmakers want to piggyback on the process by adding their immigration provisions.
  • Democrats are also planning to use reconciliation to usher in a bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrant essential workers, such as was recently introduced by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas).
  • “Essential workers risked their lives and delivered for all Americans during this pandemic,” Castro told Axios in a statement. “It’s up to Congress to deliver a path to citizenship as part of our nation’s economic recovery.”

Between the lines: Democrats and immigration advocates hope they can get 10 Republicans to possibly pass a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS holders and farmworkers as those bills have received some bipartisan support in the past.

  • At the very least, it’s politically savvy to force Republicans to openly deny a pathway to citizenship for the millions of so-called Dreamers, young people living in the U.S. illegally who were brought here as children — as it’s a proposal that enjoys wide popularity.

Go deeper

Updated Mar 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Hours-long reading of 628-page COVID relief bill delays Senate debate

Sen. Ron Johnson. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate on Thursday voted 51-50 — with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie — to proceed to debate on President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package, likely setting up a final vote this weekend.

The state of play: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) forced Senate clerks to read the entire 628-page bill on the floor, which took nearly 11 hours and lasted until 2:04 a.m. on Friday. The Senate is set to return at 9 a.m. to debate the bill before considering amendments, which could drag into the weekend.

Mar 4, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate Republicans plan to exact pain before COVID relief vote

Sen. Ron Johnson. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republicans are demanding a full, 600-page bill reading — and painful, multi-hour "vote-a-rama" — as Democrats forge ahead with their plan to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Why it matters: The procedural war is aimed at forcing Democrats to defend several parts the GOP considers unnecessary and partisan. While the process won't substantially impact the final version of the mammoth bill, it'll provide plenty of ammunition for future campaign messaging.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Mar 3, 2021 - Politics & Policy

House Democrats' opening statement on climate

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senior House Democrats are floating a big climate bill that's consistent with President Biden's agenda, but it's more of a statement of goals than anything likely to become law as written.

Driving the news: One key pillar is a "clean electricity standard" (CES) that requires utilities to supply 100% of their power from zero-carbon sources by 2035.