GOP accuses Dems of holding budget deal hostage over DACA

With 11 days to go before a threatened government shut down, Republicans involved in negotiations on a spending deal are becoming increasingly pessimistic that an agreement can be reached.

The problem is that Democrats are "slow walking" the negotiations, trying to force Republicans to accept a deal that would legalize 800,000 children of illegal aliens eligible for the DACA program. 


Party leaders from both sides of the aisle have been quietly working to raise stiff spending caps to avert a government shutdown before Jan. 19, when federal agency funding runs dry.

But Republicans claim Democrats won’t back a long-term spending plan until Congress agrees to shield hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation. The Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gave safe harbor to “Dreamers,” formally ends March 5,although some immigrants have already started losing their protections.

Yet Democrats and Republicans are still far apart on border security and other immigration provisions that would be needed to clinch a deal on the matter.

That means Republicans now face the possibility of having no budget accord anytime soon — unless they cave to Democrats.

“[R]ight now, the Democrats are holding that deal hostage for a DACA negotiation. … I think that’s going to make the Jan. 19 date pretty hard to hit,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Monday. “They’re just not agreeing to the spending caps … They’ve made a decision not to go forward on that until we get closer or get a DACA deal.”

The Democrats are playing chicken with the federal budget just to satisfy their base who were enraged when the Dems agreed to a short term spending deal last month without any DACA provisions. 

But the political risks for them are huge. They won't be able to credibly blame Republicans for a government shut down because President Trump has given Congress until March to come up with DACA legislation. In essence, there is no reason for Dems to hold the budget hostage when there is time left for a separate deal on DACA - something that the president has wanted all along.

But since the Dems are going to the wall to get DACA approved, Trump upped the stakes when he demanded other immigration enforcement measures be included along with DACA legislation, including funding for the president's border wall - a provision that enrages the Dems base as much as not getting DACA illegals legalized. 

This 11th hour posturing is normal for Congress. Nothing gets done on the budget until the prospect of political damage stares them in the face.