Senate Democrats have signaled they may be open to a two-year agreement to lift budget caps on defense and domestic spending without a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that the White House is ending.
Protection for so-called “Dreamers,” the undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, was a key demand from congressional Democrats in the spending impasse that shut down the government last weekend. Ultimately, enough Democrats agreed on Jan. 23 to end the brief shutdown and passed a stopgap funding bill that will keep the government open through Feb. 8.
While House Democrats are still insisting that a fix to protect Dreamers from deportation be included in any long-term budget deal, their counterparts in the Senate have expressed some willingness to consider immigration and spending as two separate issues.
“We’re viewing [DACA and spending] on separate terms because they are on separate paths,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL).
Durbin said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agreed to open debate on immigration and DACA in February if no deal is reached sooner. “We had hoped to achieve more,” Durbin told reporters this week. “We did achieve something significant. We have a deadline, we have a process, and I think that deadline is right near us.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has not signaled any willingness to do a budget deal without a DACA fix, and said Congress is forced to pass one stopgap spending bill after another due to “the incompetence of the Republican majority.”
President Trump yesterday said he may give Congress more time to pass legislation that protects DACA recipients if lawmakers don’t act by his March 5 deadline for ending the program. Trump said he supports a path to citizenship for Dreamers enrolled in the DACA program, though he has also said it should be tied to funding for his U.S.-Mexico border wall. The White House is scheduled to roll out a legislative framework on immigration next week that administration officials said will be a compromise that could bridge the gap on the issue between Republicans and Democrats.