With just three days left before the federal government runs out of money, congressional Democrats are divided over whether to risk a shutdown in order to force Republicans to sign on to a bipartisan immigration deal this week.
It’s the same quandary the party faced last month and twice before that. Only now, the stakes are higher and Republicans appear to be handing them some leverage.
At issue is whether to support a measure to keep the government running absent a deal to grant legal protections for the undocumented immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children. Last month, Democrats punted on the matter. And with a March deadline looming for the formal end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program—which protected an estimated 800,000 DREAMers from deportation—they are now facing impassioned demands from their base to take advantage of one of their few remaining pressure points.
“[President Donald Trump] said to the Republican Congress, fix it. Remember that? That’s what he said. Fix it. And it is their job to fix it. So, no, I will not be voting for any [short-term extension] that does not provide legal status to the DREAMers and a path toward citizenship,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told reporters at the Capitol.
But that sentiment is not shared universally across the party, with some lawmakers wary that Democrats would both cede the moral high ground and invite the blame.
“Historically, it’s Republicans that shut the government down and Democrats don’t want to play that,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), a progressive Democrat who is up for re-election in a state Trump won in 2016. “Every time the government shuts down or always shuts down, it’s the Tea-Party talking points and it’s threatening to shut the government down, it’s threatening to not pay our bills, threatening default—it’s what they do. Democrats absolutely don’t want to shut the government down.”
The party’s slate of aspiring 2020 presidential candidates—notably Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)—has encouraged their colleagues to adopt a more united front. And they’ve been joined by more progressive members of the party.
“There’s no reason we can’t get this done. There is one compromise that can get the votes, and it’s just up to [Republican leaders] whether they want to schedule it or not,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) said, referring to the bipartisan compromise brokered last week. “And the reason they don’t want to schedule it is not because it can’t get the votes, but because it can. And they would have to do a bipartisan deal, which they are still allergic to.”
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A judge has blocked Donald Trump from ending an Obama-era program that shielded from deportation children brought to the United States illegally by their parents.
US district judge William Alsup ruled in San Francisco on Tuesday that the program must “maintain the Daca program on a nationwide basis” while litigation over Trump’s decision unfolds.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) program has allowed nearly 800,000 immigrants to work and go to school in the US without fear of deportation since it was authorised by former president Barack Obama in 2012.
In his ruling, Alsup wrote that previous recipients of Daca protections who failed to register by the deadline must be allowed to renew their status in the program. However, he said the federal government did not have to process new applications from people who had never before received protection under the program.
Nearly 22,000 Daca recipients did not successfully apply to renew their eligibility, according to a study by the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning thinktank in Washington. The researchers estimate that on average 122 Daca recipients per day will lose their legal protections in the 181 days between 5 September 2017 and 5 March.
“In terminating Daca, the administrative record failed to address the 689,800 young people who had come to rely on Daca to live and to work in this country,” Alsup wrote.
“These individuals had submitted substantial personal identifying information to the government, paid hefty fees and planned their lives according to the dictates of Daca. The administrative record includes no consideration to the disruption a rescission would have on the lives of Daca recipients, let alone their families, employers and employees, schools and communities.”
We must not hold the lives of 800,000 young Dreamers hostage in order to fund a wall that the overwhelming majority of Americans oppose. Sadly, it appears that is exactly what Donald Trump wants. pic.twitter.com/hFpQ1pZByM
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) January 9, 2018
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Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders took aim at President Donald Trump’s proposal to spend $18 billion over the next decade to extend a border wall with Mexico.
“The American people, in fact, do not want to spend billions of dollars on a wall which Trump told us would be paid for by the Mexican government, which, of course, is not going to be paid for by” Mexico, Sanders told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on This Week Sunday.
Stephanopoulos also asked Sanders about his views of Trump’s fitness for office in light of allegations in an explosive new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.
The senator, who ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, said what bothers him most about Trump is that he promised during the campaign to fight for working people, but “he governs now as a representative of the billionaire class.”
“Tax breaks for the wealthy, cutting people off of health insurance, ignoring the needs of children, not dealing with the prescription drug crisis in the country that he said he would deal with,” Sanders said. “I worry about him being a pathological liar. Those are some of the concerns I have.”
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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is ripping the Trump administration for ending a key Obama-era immigration program aimed at protecting undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children.
“Trump’s decision to end the DACA program … is the cruelest and most ugly presidential act in the modern history of this country. I cannot think of one single act that is uglier and more cruel,” Sanders said from the Senate floor.
Sanders added that the decision, announced this week by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is an “abomination.”
Senate Democrats have taken over the Senate floor on Wednesday to protest the decision to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Democrats are demanding a stand-alone vote on the DREAM Act. Similar to DACA it would allow people brought to the United States illegally as children to continue to live and work freely in the country.
Sanders added that Congress should pass the DREAM Act “as soon as possible.”
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