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More about the im­mi­gra­tion de­bate.

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By ANDREW TAYLOR

WASHINGTON — A week after a stand­off forced a three-day govern­ment shut­down, con­gres­sional bud­get talks re­main bogged down by Democrats’ de­mands to pro­tect “Dreamer” im­mi­grants and GOP con­ser­va­tives’ con­cerns about a boom­ing fed­eral deficit.

The dead­lock is de­flat­ing hopes law­mak­ers will reach a break­through be­fore an­other shut­down dead­line next week.

At risk are up to $80 bil­lion in in­creases for the Pen­tagon this year alone, and nearly as much money for do­mes­tic pro­grams. Al­most $100 bil­lion worth of over­due as­sis­tance for hur­ri­cane-slammed Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida is be­ing de­layed.

The knot in­volves about $1.2 bil­lion in agency op­er­at­ing bud­gets for the fis­cal year that be­gan in Oc­to­ber, along with hur­ri­cane re­lief, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s $18 bil­lion-plus bor­der wall and other odds and ends.

The mea­sure has been hung up for months as law­mak­ers in both par­ties strug­gle first with a deal to in­crease tight lim­its on spend­ing that are left over from a failed 2011 bud­get agree­ment. It takes Repub­li­cans and Democrats to lift the lim­its, called spend­ing “caps” in Capi­tol-speak. But talks have pro­ceeded slowly and now are await­ing agree­ment on leg­is­la­tion to ad­dress younger im­mi­grants cur­rently pro­tected from de­por­ta­tion un­der the soon-to-ex­pire De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram, or DACA.

But there are other prob­lems afoot. Con­ser­va­tives say Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic pro­pos­als on the ta­ble would bal­loon the deficit, send­ing it over $1 tril­lion.

“That’s a non-starter for con­ser­va­tives,” said Rep. Mark Mead­ows, R-N.C., chair­man of the hard-right House Free­dom Cau­cus.

The House on Tues­day in­stead passed — for the third time — a $659 bil­lion Pen­tagon fund­ing mea­sure. The bill would break the ex­ist­ing bud­get cap for de­fense by $73 bil­lion — al­most $20 bil­lion more than the bud­get Trump pro­posed last year. The 250-166 House vote broke mostly along party lines.

The move was aimed at turn­ing up the heat on Se­nate Democrats, sev­eral of whom face dif­fi­cult re-elec­tion bids in states won by Trump.

Repub­li­cans are try­ing to cast Democrats as hold­ing money for U.S. troops hostage to ob­tain sym­pa­thetic treat­ment for im­mi­grants fac­ing de­por­ta­tion, as well as a va­ri­ety of other Demo­cratic pri­or­i­ties.

“Se­nate Democrats are play­ing pol­i­tics with de­fense spend­ing that is so vi­tal to our na­tional se­cu­rity needs,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. “We just don’t see this as ir­re­spon­si­ble. It’s dan­ger­ous. You do have train­ing ac­ci­dents hap­pen­ing more and more these days.”

It’s un­clear ex­actly what would hap­pen if ne­go­ti­a­tions fall apart, but one pos­si­bil­ity would be con­tin­u­ing cur­rent spend­ing lev­els. That would up­set the Pen­tagon’s many al­lies on the Repub­li­can side. It also would up­set Capi­tol Hill’s once-dom­i­nant ap­pro­pri­a­tions com­mit­tees, which watched in frus­tra­tion dur­ing the past few years as Congress has in­creas­ingly strug­gled to per­form its most ba­sic task of fund­ing the govern­ment.

“If we can’t fig­ure this out — it’s been punted, punted, punted and punted — how are we go­ing to man­age to get through the next three years un­der this pres­i­dent?” asked Washington Sen. Patty Mur­ray, a key Demo­crat on the Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee.

The de­lays guar­an­tee law­mak­ers will need to pass yet an­other stop­gap spend­ing bill — the fifth since Septem­ber — next week to pre­vent an­other govern­ment shut­down next Fri­day.

As­so­ci­ated Press

House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi of Cal­i­for­nia, left, lis­tens as Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., speaks dur­ing a news con­fer­ence Tues­day on Capi­tol Hill in Washington about leg­is­la­tion to pro­tect De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram re­cip­i­ents.

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