Democrats fold; withdraw threat to shut down government to protect Dreamers

Democrats fold; withdraw threat to shut down government to protect Dreamers
With the Christmas recess approaching, Democrats have withdrawn their threats to shut down the government if Republicans do not include a fix for the DACA recipients in a government funding bill. (Al Drago/Getty Images)

After weeks of posturing, Democrats have withdrawn their threats to shut down the government if Republicans do not include deportation relief for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients in a government funding bill.

While House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi  (D-Calif.) had previously vowed that Democrats would not leave town without deportation relief for Dreamers, she began to backtrack late last week and suggest that Democrats were withdrawing their shutdown threat.

“Democrats are not willing to shut government down, no,” Pelosi said.

Other Democrats have also started dialing back their rhetoric on DACA as the Christmas recess looms. Sen.Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told Politico in an interview, “Obviously, I want a Dreamers fix by the end of the year. I’m not sure that it serves our purposes to draw hard lines in the sand in the middle of negotiations.”

Democrats in the Senate have the power to block a funding resolution with a filibuster because Republicans have used the budgetary reconciliation measure in order to pass the tax reform bill that is currently at the top of President Donald Trump’s legislative agenda. Under Senate rules, reconciliation can only be used once per year.

Negotiations over a continuing resolution to fund the government have reached a fevered pitch as lawmakers attempt to reach a long-term solution before the current funding resolution runs out on Dec. 22.

Republicans and Democrats have agreed to two last-minute temporary funding resolutions that preserve the status quo thus far in the negotiation process, but both sides seem anxious to find a longer term solution and avoid the looming threat of government shutdown while heading into an election year.

Accordingly, Democrats are softening demands on a DACA fix, which is widely viewed as a poison pill, and focusing on a broader range of priorities, including funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Republicans, for their part, want funding for increased border security measures included in any resolution that continues to fund the government.

In September, the Trump administration announced that it would end the DACA, program created by former President Barack Obama. The DACA program allows young immigrants living in the country illegally who were brought here as children to remain in the U.S. It does not give them legal status but provides temporary protection from deportation and permits them to work legally.