DACA showdown traps Dems

Democrats have promised to shut the government down if DACA is not included in the budget bill.  The president refused to sign off on a spending agreement reached in the Senate that would have included DACA legislation, calling the Democrats' bluff.  Speaker Paul Ryan said at a Wisconsin political event that there would be no deal with Democrats on DACA legislation, which would legalize hundreds of thousands of children of illegal aliens.  He also said there would be no government shutdown when Washington hits the deadline of January 19 to pass a spending bill.

Trump has backed Democrats against the wall.  By stipulating that there would be no relief for DREAMers without a major overhaul of the immigration system, Trump is upping the ante to get what he wants on border security and immigration reform by separating DACA from the spending bill.  The opposition will have far less leverage if Republicans can pass a temporary spending bill, probably funding the government into March.

Meanwhile, Ryan sounded confident that a stopgap spending bill can be passed.


The speaker said the spending legislation to keep the government open would be another short-term bill to give lawmakers more time to hash out final details.  He said he's confident they will reach a long-term spending agreement at some point, even if he can't say when.  "I think we'll get a down payment on some of these problems and keep fighting, keep working to get the rest of it done."

Ryan said he didn't think there would be a government shutdown, adding that Republicans and Democrats are making progress on spending caps.

Trump apparently believes he will have one shot to reform our broken immigration system and wants a more comprehensive approach.  The proposed deal that the president rejected wasn't broad enough.


The proposal presented by the bipartisan Gang of Six was a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants [sic; should be "illegal aliens" –ed.] who came to the [U.S.] as children – beyond just those who were enrolled in DACA when it ended, according to lawmakers and sources familiar with the meeting.

In addition, they proposed a down payment of the $1.6 billion requested by the administration this year on border security, limits to the ability of recipients to sponsor family members[,] and an end to the diversity lottery and reallocation of those visas in part to cover people who were under Temporary Protected Status.

Republican Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue and Republican Reps. Bob Goodlatte, Kevin McCarthy[,] and Mario Diaz-Balart were also at the Trump meeting on Thursday.  Cotton, Perdue, Goodlatte[,] and McCarthy pushed back at the Durbin and Graham proposal.

Ryan may or may not have the votes to pass a short-term spending bill.  He may just be whistling past the graveyard.  But Democrats are well and truly trapped between their base of supporters who demand that DACA legislation be attached to the spending bill and the prospect of being blamed for a government shutdown.  The Democrats firmly believe that this is their year to take back the House and possibly even the Senate.  Trump has now changed the game by playing on that hope, daring the Democrats to refuse to vote for a short-term spending deal over DREAMers and suffer the electoral consequences.

With DACA authorized through March, Democrats don't have a leg to stand on when it comes to forcing Republicans to deal with DACA now.  There's no guarantee that the Democrats won't hold out on immigration reform until the short-term spending agreement expires in March, but they are likely to get even less if they refuse to deal with Republicans on immigration reform in the interim. 

Everyone – even Democrats – knows that the immigration system is broken.  If Democrats want to be part of the solution, they are going to have to deal with Trump's demands and hope they get DACA in return.

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