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Senate Democrats say they'll drop 'Dreamer' demands in budget talks

Senate Democrats are reportedly willing to drop their demands that immigration reform to protect so-called Dreamers must be part of a budget agreement to keep the government open. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Senate Democratic leaders announced Tuesday that they are willing to end their demands that a so-called "DACA fix" be part of final spending negotiations to keep the government open, according to Politico.

Last week, Senate Democrats insisted that a permanent legislative solution for "Dreamers" — the name given to recipients of former President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — had to be part of a temporary spending bill. President Donald Trump announced in September that the DACA program will end March 5.

When the Republican-authored stop-gap bill did not contain Dreamer language, Democrats blocked the bill's passage Friday, which resulted in a government shutdown.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) convinced his caucus Monday to agree to a deal with Republicans to pass a three-week spending bill to reopen the government that did not address DACA. In exchange, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised to bring up an immigration reform bill next month. The agreement also stipulated that the bill would be open to amendments.

The Senate deal infuriated many DACA supporters, including several members of Congress and their constituents. Some immigration protesters even took their complaints directly to Schumer's home in New York City.

What are Senate Democrats saying now?

Politico reported Tuesday evening that Democratic leaders have further acquiesced to Republican demands to separate a DACA fix from a final FY 2018 spending bill that would also include a two-year hike of federal spending caps.

“We’re viewing [immigration and spending] on separate terms because they are on separate paths,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said, Politico reported. Durbin called McConnell's "concession" to bring up a separate immigration reform bill a "significant step forward," the outlet noted.

The current spending bill expires Feb. 8. If Senate Democrats do not drop their DACA demands, lawmakers face the specter of another government shutdown. However, Democrats have admitted that, because of the McConnell agreement, a shutdown would stand in the way of an immigration reform bill.

Senate Assistant Democratic Leader Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said that the deal with GOP leadership to turn to an immigration bill was contingent on the government still being funded, Politico reported. But she stated that she continued to hold out hope to get Dreamer protections included in the final budget agreement.

“Feb. 8, we’re going to have another [stopgap bill]. But we have to have that budget agreement in order to move forward. ... That's the goal," Murray admitted. "And then the deal is that if DACA is not part of that, then it will be the next thing considered.”

What do House Democrats think of this development?

House Democrats are not prepared to go along with a DACA-free budget deal, according to Politico. Several members are reportedly insisting that immigration and budget negotiations be linked.

However, the minority party in the House has little to no leverage because, unlike their Senate counterparts, there's nothing they can do to stop any bills that have the backing of the House majority.

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