Lawmakers are gearing up for an end-of-year fight over a key Obama-era immigration program, raising the chances of a government shutdown.
Senate Republicans and President Trump agreed during a closed-door White House meeting on Thursday that they would oppose addressing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as part of the December funding legislation.
But that stance is unacceptable to Democrats and their immigration allies, who want Congress to pass a legislative fix before going home for Christmas.
The fight over undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children is emerging as the largest hurdle to avoiding a government shutdown after Dec. 8.
Democrats believe they have leverage to demand an immigration deal going into the end-of-year negotiations because GOP leadership will likely need their votes to keep the government open.
They are signaling, despite the decision from the president, that they will keep DACA in the December talks until Republicans show they can pass a spending bill on their own.
“Unless Republicans can keep the government open without Democratic votes, this is not their decision to make. I have yet to see any evidence that they will be able to do that,” said Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), added that “Republicans can talk to themselves in the mirror all they want, but the fact is the vote is the currency of the realm and Republicans frequently find themselves holding an empty wallet.”
House Republicans, because they’re in the majority, can pass a government funding bill without House Democrats if they can hold together most of the caucus — an uphill battle, given the chamber’s unwieldy conservative factions.
And with a 60-vote procedural hurdle in the Senate, Republicans will need the support of at least eight Democrats to pass a funding bill — and they will likely need even more help if they can’t win over GOP senators who perennially vote “no” on spending bills.
Senate Democratic leadership is largely holding their fire on making shutdown threats, so far, instead stressing that they believe a DACA fix needs to pass this year.
By Jordain Carney for THE HILL
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