Government Shutdown Hangs On The Senate

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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House lawmakers passed a bill to avert a government shutdown Thursday evening, sending the measure to the Senate for approval.

The House voted 230-197 in favor of a spending bill that will keep the government funded through mid-February.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan rolled out the bill at a House GOP Conference meeting Tuesday. The bill offers a number of sweeteners for both conservatives and Democrats, including a 6-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

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

Senate Majority McConnell urged his colleagues Tuesday afternoon to pass a short-term funding bill and continue discussions on how to proceed with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Congress has, at the very least, until March before it has to reach a solution on 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 shuts down, it will be 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.

The bill has now made its way to the Senate Thursday evening, where Senate Democrats are, as of late Thursday afternoon, leaning towards shooting down the bill for not including DACA protections.

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