Last night (Thursday), the House of Representatives in the U.S. Congress passed a temporary spending bill that will keep the government open temporarily without a DACA fix, (a DREAM Act-type legislation), hitting the ball into the Senate’s court. Only six Democrats voted for the bill, and 11 Republicans voted against it.
Some government agencies will run out of money if both chambers of Congress cannot pass a funding plan by 11:59 p.m. today.
The approved House bill contains a six-year funding extension for Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which has been used as a bargaining chip against Democrats along with the DREAM Act-type legislation in exchange for funding for the border wall and immigration enforcement measures.
CHIP funding provides health services for low-income families’ children. The CHIP funding expired in September 2017, sending states into budget chaos trying to find monies for the program.
The passage of the bill in the House has only shifted the battle. A showdown is expected in the Senate since Democrats are threatening to block the House bill and possibly will be joined by several Republican Senators who already voiced opposition to the House bill. The Senate will need 60 votes to pass a bill, and the Republican majority has only 51 members. Additionally, a couple of Republicans are in the “no” camp, among them Senator Lindsey Graham.
The DACA-DREAMers and their allies have been knocking on doors to target Senators’ offices and are slowly but surely getting the commitment that supports their cause: a “no” vote unless the bill contains a permanent solution to their immigration situation.
This crisis of a government shutdown has been exacerbated by Trump, who has previously rejected a bipartisan agreement that contained a solution for DREAMers, and sent the House bill to be reworked without the DREAM Act-type provision.
The blame game for the lack of agreement so far has been nasty. Republicans are blaming Democrats for the potential shutdown, saying they do not support funding national security, the military or children’s health, even though Republicans control the three branches of government.
The negotiations are expected to continue today in an hour-by-hour play while DREAMers and advocates continue to push the Senate to include a DREAM Act-type provision in the bill. They will not rest until the very end of this long day.