Dems Are Gambling 8.9 Million Children’s Health Coverage To Protect 800,000 Illegal Immigrants

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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Democrats are willing to jeopardize the health insurance of roughly 9 million American children if it means they are able to secure legal protections for 800,000 illegal immigrants and members of their families.

Congress has less than 48 hours to strike a deal to keep the government funded through October. If members fail to come to a spending agreement by Friday afternoon, all “non-essential” government employees will be furloughed, and active U.S. Military personnel will be working without pay (including troops currently deployed). Funding for agencies like federal museums or national parks will also be cut off.

Republicans are offering Democrats a 6-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a highly popular program that provides comprehensive health coverage, including mental health and dental coverage, to over 8.9 million American children in exchange for their vote on the spending bill. Democrats have pushed for CHIP reauthorization since the program’s budget expired in November, making the offer all the more difficult to pass up for Democrats.

Yet, after months of posturing over CHIP, Senate Democrats are likely going to vote to shut the government down Thursday night — an act they lambasted Republicans for in 2013 –simply because the bill does not include protections for DREAMers and their parents. Effectively, Democrats are using children’s health care as leverage in their fight to protect illegal immigrants.

McConnell urged his colleagues on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon to pass a short-term funding bill and continue discussions on how to precede with DACA. Congress has, at the very least, until March before it has to reach a solution to DACA.

“With no imminent deadline on immigration and with bipartisan talks well under way, there’s no reason why Congress should hold government funding hostage over the issue of illegal immigration,” McConnell said.

“Now that a federal judge has issued a nationwide injunction preventing the administration from winding down the Obama administration’s DACA program, it is clear that Congress has at least until March at a minimum, and possibly even longer, to reach a compromise,” McConnell said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer isn’t backing down from the position he took last week, promising that Senate Democrats will give a strong thumbs down to any spending proposal that does not protect DREAMers.

“The fact remains the only way to guarantee the legal status for DREAMers is to pass DACA protections into law and do it now,” Schumer said last week. “For that reason, a resolution to the DACA issue must be part of a global deal on the budget.”

The Senate minority leader said Wednesday afternoon that, if the government shutdown, it would be the Republicans’ fault.

“If, God forbid, there’s a shutdown, it will fall on the majority leader’s shoulders and the president’s shoulders,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said Thursday that he believes the House will pass the spending bill Thursday evening, with the CHIP reauthorization included. The bill will make its way to the Senate Thursday evening, where the bill is, as of Thursday afternoon, leaning towards being shot down by Senate Democrats for not including DACA protections.

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