A number of prominent Democratic senators have established a legislative extension to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as a non-negotiable starting point for any government spending bill, and they are prepared to allow a government shutdown, should Republicans push back.
Roughly one week before the Dec. 8 shutdown deadline, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, said he would block any spending legislation that fails to address the fate of Dreamers — individuals brought to country illegally as minors.
“That’s my position. There’s too much at stake here. We can’t let this to slip into January, February with a March 5 deadline. It should be done, it can be done, easily, simply and quickly,” Durbin told The Washington Post Wednesday. “I do believe in the last few days that more Republicans believe us,” Durbin added, referencing Democrats’ public insistence that passing some variation of the Dream Act is a non-negotiable priority.
Republican lawmakers have said they would entertain the inclusion of a provision related to the DACA program, which President Donald Trump phased out via executive order in September, but stipulated that such legislation must be accompanied by security measures.
Durbin is joined in his staunch opposition to funding the government absent a DACA provision by four of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate, all of which hold presidential ambitions, as well as 12 House Democrats.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have stated that they will do everything possible to address the fate of Dreamers in the impending spending bill, but have not joined Durbin and his more outspoken colleagues in explicitly threatening a shutdown.
The prevailing sentiment among the GOP leadership regarding how best to address the impending shutdown relies on the introduction of two short term funding bills, the first of which would extend funding through Dec. 22, while the second would keep the government funded until some point in mid January.
Protecting the immigration status of Dreamers has increasingly driven a wedge between the progressive and centrist wings of the Democratic Party. Progressives derided Pelosi and Schumer for engaging in a dialogue with Trump in September after he discontinued the program but publicly stated his desire to enshrine the program’s deportation protection in law prior to the end of the two-year phase out period.
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