Key Democrats Soften on Push to Expand Immigration in Biden Bill

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi assured three potential holdout House Democrats late Thursday that immigrant protections will be a top priority after the party finishes its sweeping social spending and tax package, potentially strengthening a deal that doesn’t include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Reps. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Jesús ‘Chuy’ García(D-Ill.), and Lou Correa (D-Calif.) met with Pelosi Thursday after spending the day trying to persuade colleagues to strengthen immigration language in the bill.

“We still were pushing for it today but it’s getting late … early, as Yogi Berra used to say,” Espaillat told Bloomberg Government after the meeting.

“Whatever happens tonight won’t include everything that’s relevant and important to the whole immigration debate,” he said. “Some of those issues we brought up to her, and she was very receptive to it.”

The current text of the broad tax and spending bill includes a parole option that would provide work authorization and deportation protections for some undocumented immigrants. The three Democrats, who previously staked their votes on the inclusion of a path to citizenship, spent Thursday trying to persuade moderate colleagues to support the inclusion of an immigration registry update, which would provide a new path to status for some.

Espaillat said he expects the parole option to remain in the House bill. He wouldn’t say whether he’s a definite yes on the bill but didn’t say he would block it.

García issued a statement saying, “All options remain on the table, but we are not drafting new language. Speaker Pelosi shares our concerns for the immigrant community, recognizes their contributions and is committed to keeping immigration in play.”

The House is expected to vote on the package Friday.

With assistance from Erik Wasson.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen M. Gilmer in Washington at egilmer@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloombergindustry.com

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