They are, instead, using their leverage to insist that any must-pass spending bill include permanent legal protections for about 700,000 young immigrants who enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program known as DACA. President Trump canceled the program last fall, giving Congress until March 5 to legislate a permanent solution.
“Clearly we’re serious about getting DACA done,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.
With the two parties far apart on what should be included in any immigration bill, the chances of a bipartisan agreement on DACA in the spending bill by Friday are close to zero.
Reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program that had been allowed to expire was one of the Democrats’ major demands, but the six-year funding offer in the spending bill by House Republicans is “an inept effort to try to throw us a bone,” said Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough.
“I think we’re all at risk if the government shuts down,” Speier said. “I don't want to see the government shut down any more than anyone else does. I don't see this is as a game of chess or high-stakes poker.”
But Speier said the added children’s health insurance authorization does not include funding for the community health centers that many children use, and is attached to provisions that repeal two taxes undergirding the Affordable Care Act.
“I don’t want to see the Affordable Care Act killed by a thousand cuts,” she said.
Four months into the new fiscal year, congressional Republicans are beset by internal struggles to write a long-term spending budget. Split over critical funding issues that include overall levels of military and domestic spending, Republicans passed a stopgap funding bill just before Christmas, punting the issues to the new year.
Still unable to resolve those issues, House Republicans now intend to put another one-month spending bill on the floor Thursday that would keep the government open until Feb. 16. It would be the fourth such temporary measure since they gained control of the Congress and the White House a year ago.
If the bill passes the House, which is no sure thing, it would also have to clear the Senate with Democratic help. Republicans have only a 51-49 majority in that chamber, and will need nine Democratic votes to reach the 60-vote threshold required for passage.
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In the House, Republicans hold a 241-to-194 majority, but members of the conservative Freedom Caucus are threatening to vote against another stopgap bill, so Democratic help may be needed there, too, to keep the government open. Bay Area Democrats showed no inclination to go along.
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, whose East Bay district has thousands of federal employees at two national labs, Lawrence Livermore and Sandia, said he would probably vote against another short-term spending bill.
“I have a lot of federal workers in my district, but a lot of them are tired of living week to week on CR’s,” Swalwell said, referring to the Capitol Hill shorthand for the spending bill, called a continuing resolution. He said he wanted any bill to include protection for the young immigrants, along with parity in military and domestic spending increases, among other issues.
Asked if he worried that Democrats could get blamed for shutting down the government, Swalwell said, “It’s unified government among the Republicans. We’re not responsible for shutting down the government.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., all but dared Democrats on Wednesday to kill the spending bill.
“I find it difficult to believe that my Democratic colleagues would want to shut down the government for American citizens and vote down a six-year reauthorization of health insurance for American children, all over illegal immigration,” McConnell said.
Although lawmakers have widely concluded that no deal on immigration will be reached by Friday, the DACA issue continues to dominate the spending fight, at least politically.
While Democrats in deep-blue California are willing to draw a red line over the young immigrants, 10 Democrats in the Senate who are running for re-election this year in states Trump won are not ready to shut down the government over expanding protections for immigrants who came to the country without authorization.
Trump won many of the states those Democrats represent, such as Montana, West Virginia, Missouri, Indiana and North Dakota, by wide margins. In West Virginia, where Democrat Joe Manchin is running for re-election, Trump won by a 42-point spread over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Republicans included the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program after a finding by the Congressional Budget Office that continuing the multibillion-dollar program would save the government money.
That’s because the children’s health program would cost taxpayers less than providing health care to the same individuals under the Affordable Care Act. And that’s mainly because Republicans have stripped so many provisions of that health law that premiums are expected to rise sharply, and with them, the cost of federal premium subsidies to lower-income families.
The new spending bill proposal also does not include the $81 billion in disaster assistance for California’s Wine Country fires and the three hurricanes that struck Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico last year. The disaster funding passed the House last month but never cleared the Senate, where it awaits Republican action on the overall budget.
As the deadline for a spending bill nears, bipartisan immigration talks continued Wednesday among the big four negotiators who are the second-ranking officials in their respective chambers and parties: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield and Senate GOP whip John Cornyn of Texas on the Republican side, and Senate Democratic whip Dick Durbin of Illinois and House Democratic whip Steny Hoyer of Maryand.
Republicans dismissed a bipartisan plan promoted by Durbin and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., that the White House rejected last week at a stormy Oval Office meeting because it did not eliminate extended family visas or the diversity visa lottery. McConnell said any plan “will require the signature of the president.”
Source : http://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/No-Dreamer-protections-no-support-among-state-12505832.php