House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy blasted Democrats for threating to withhold their votes on a must-pass spending bill over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, telling reporters Tuesday they shouldn’t put an arbitrary deadline on an immigration deal.
McCarthy — who is one of the principal negotiators in immigration alongside House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin — said U.S. District Judge Williams Alsup’s order to keep DACA — the Obama-era initiative that extended temporary legal status to foreign nationals who illegally entered the country as minors — in place provides lawmakers additional time to construct a permanent legislative fix despite initially facing a March 5 deadline.
“There is no deadline on DACA — you have the court case going forward so why would they harm the military for something that’s not shut down?” he told reporters Tuesday following a House GOP conference meeting.
While Congress has until just Jan. 19 to keep the government funded, Democrats are largely holding the line on their demand that an immigration deal be reached before they are willing to support a spending bill.
Top Republicans have been quick to blast Democrats’ attempts to leverage a shutdown threat, arguing they are playing chicken with funding necessary priorities including defense spending.
“I don’t understand what their opposition is — I know they want to shut the government down and play politics, but that they should not play politics with our military,” McCarthy said. “The court case put a stay on it.”
The California Republican noted both parties are committed to finding a solution that can pass both chambers.
“I’d like to get our borders secure and get that all done as soon as possible,” he said. “I’d like to get it done the — the longer it lingers the more problems the problems we have to deal with,” he continued.”
While Democrats have long pushed for a clean bill providing a path to citizenship for “Dreamers” be brought to the floor, Republicans are advocating for a broader immigration package that addresses chain migration, border security and the visa lottery program in addition to a DACA fix.
The principal negotiators are scheduled to continue immigration discussions Wednesday.