On Monday afternoon, the Senate passed the three-week spending bill with a vote of 81 to 18. The House approved it that evening, providing additional government funding until Feb. 8. The bill now heads to the Oval Office desk for the President’s signature.
Democrats originally held back their votes Friday in an attempt to incite legislation on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (DACA). The program protects individuals who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children by deferring deportation for two years. These same individuals may receive work authorization under DACA. As of Sep. 2017, there are 689,800 DACA recipients in the U.S., according to the USCIS. President Trump’s “wind-down” of the program will begin if Congress does not reach an agreement by Mar. 5.
But the Democrats’ quick capitulation is under scrutiny by many who claim it is evidence that the party was not committed to DACA in the first place. Stephanie Taylor of Progressive Change Campaign Committee commented,
“Today’s cave by Senate Democrats — led by weak-kneed, right of centre Democrats — is why people don’t believe the Democratic Party stands for anything.”
Indeed, ten Democrats facing re-election this year in conservative states pushed for a deal to relieve some of the blame for the “Schumer Shutdown” from their shoulders. In exchange for their acquiescence, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer only received a promise from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of his “intention” to open the floor to debate over immigration policy in the coming weeks.
DACA does not yet have a clear fate. If DACA is allowed to expire in March, ICE can begin deporting DREAMers. However, around 80% of Americans polled expressed a desire to extend DACA, so inaction would be an ill-informed political decision for both parties. Alternatively, Congress can reach a true compromise in which Democrats trade a DACA deal for funding for the border wall. The same agreement could be expanded to include new legal immigration policies, including the termination of the diversity lottery for preference of skilled immigrants. A simple vote is not out of the question, but highly unlikely given the Republican Party’s lofty goals and the leverage it possesses to attain them.
Yet the Democrats do not see DACA as the only point of contention in the government shutdown. Above all, the party was fighting for its version of the spending budget, one that would not be another “kick to the can” three-week spending bill on which the government has been subsisting since Oct. 1. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said,
“Everybody keeps forgetting the larger issue here is the budget. Our fight all along has been we want parity in the budget between our defense budget, which we support, and our domestic budget, which we need.”