Monday, January 22, 2018

Congress Votes to Reopen Government, but Without DACA Solution

Posted By on Mon, Jan 22, 2018 at 7:34 PM

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Three days after the federal government shut down, Congress voted in favor of a stopgap spending bill that will temporarily reopen it.

On Monday afternoon, lawmakers on Capitol Hill passed a stopgap spending bill that will keep the government funded until February 8. Still absent from the bill, however, is a concrete solution regarding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program at the center of the debate leading up to the government shutdown on Friday.

Not much appears to have changed since Friday, when Senate Democrats (and a few Republicans) refused to vote in favor of a spending bill that didn’t include a DACA solution. For the last five years, the program has allowed undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children to live, work and study here legally. Approximately 800,000 DACA recipients — 125,000 of them in Texas— currently reside in the U.S. In September 2017, President Donald Trump announced he’d be ending DACA.

Without a concrete solution in the spending bill which passed today, DACA recipients, known as “Dreamers,” are left hanging onto the promise of continued negotiations: Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer and GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell agreed to continue to negotiate the future of DACA, but whether those negotiations will bear fruit remains to be seen.



“I am pleased that Democrats in Congress have come to their senses and are now willing to fund our great military, Border Patrol, first responders and insurance for vulnerable children,” Trump said in a statement via his press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday. “I’ve always said, once the government is funded, my administration will work towards solving the problem of very unfair illegal immigration. We will make a long-term deal on immigration if, and only if, it’s good for our country.”

DACA is set to expire on March 5, and the spending bill that passed will only fund the government up until February 8. This means lawmakers will have to re-negotiate a spending bill a month prior to the DACA deadline, where another Capitol Hill show-down could potentially take place.

Although 20 Senate Democrats kept their promises by voting against today's bill that didn't include a DACA provision, the Senate still obtained the 60 bipartisan votes they needed to pass the measure. The House of Representatives also passed the spending bill today, and now, it moves on to Trump's desk.

The spending bill passed today also includes a 6-year extension for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health coverage for low-income children and mothers.

The program was at risk of running out of funding after Congress let it expire back in September. Republicans had added the CHIP provision to the spending bill before Friday, and they criticized Democrats who opposed its passage, saying they were jeopardizing healthcare for children.

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