US Gov­ern­ment shut­down: Repub­li­cans float mi­nor im­mi­gra­tion deal in bid to end dead­lock

Zambian Business Times - - POLITICS AND GOVERNMENTS -

THE US gov­ern­ment shut­down edged closer to a res­o­lu­tion on Sun­day night of the 21 Jan­uary af­ter a mi­nor con­ces­sion from the Sen­ate ma­jor­ity leader, Mitch Mc­Connell, who said he would al­low a vote on im­mi­gra­tion re­form in Fe­bru­ary if Democrats agree to fund the gov­ern­ment. How­ever, one Demo­cratic source cau­tioned that no deal had been reached.

Mc­Connell’s pro­posal rep­re­sented the fruit of a bi­par­ti­san ef­fort among mod­er­ates in both par­ties to re­solve the shut­down, which be­gan at mid­night on Sat­ur­day.

The shut­down was spurred by the in­abil­ity of Congress to reach a deal to re­solve the sta­tus of “Dream­ers” – un­doc­u­mented mi­grants brought into the United States as chil­dren. They had been pro­tected from de­por­ta­tion un­til Septem­ber 2017 when the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion ended the Daca pro­gram, which had been cre­ated by Barack Obama.

Trump al­lowed a six-month grace pe­riod for Congress to give Dream­ers per­ma­nent le­gal sta­tus through leg­is­la­tion. How­ever, with that ex­pir­ing in early March, Democrats, fac­ing heavy pres­sure from im­mi­gra­tion ad­vo­cates, had pledged not to fund the gov­ern­ment un­til a deal was reached.

Mc­Connell’s pro­posal would al­low the Sen­ate to de­bate and vote on an im­mi­gra­tion deal if a broader bi­par­ti­san com­pro­mise was not reached in the next three weeks.

Speak­ing on the floor, the top Sen­ate Repub­li­can said he would push for a Mon­day vote on a short-term deal to fund the gov­ern­ment through 8 Fe­bru­ary, as well as ex­tend a pop­u­lar health in­surance pro­gram called Chip that pro­vides health­care cov­er­age to nine mil­lion chil­dren for six years.

Repub­li­cans had used Chip as lever­age in the failed vote on Fri­day night to fund the gov­ern­ment for four weeks. They ul­ti­mately wooed four Democrats to sup­port the pro­posal to fund the gov­ern­ment.

A hard­line stance on im­mi­gra­tion has been a pri­or­ity of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion and sup­port for the pop­u­lar health care pro­gram was a way to lure Democrats to cross over with­out mak­ing con­ces­sions on Dream­ers.

How­ever, four Repub­li­cans op­posed the bill and it failed to reach the 60-vote su­per­ma­jor­ity needed to avoid a fil­i­buster in the Sen­ate. Repub­li­cans had ex­pressed con­cern about the gov­ern­ment be­ing funded by a se­ries of short-term bills since Septem­ber as well as what they thought was in­ad­e­quate spend­ing on de­fense.

At least one Repub­li­can dis­senter in­di­cated on Sun­day that he would sup­port the bill. Jeff Flake, an ar­dent anti-Trump con­ser­va­tive from Ari­zona, said he would sup­port a three-week fund­ing bill af­ter op­pos­ing the four-week pro­posal on Fri­day. In ad­di­tion, Doug Jones, a Demo­crat from Alabama who had been par­tic­i­pat­ing in the bi­par­ti­san talks, tweeted Sun­day night that he was “en­cour­aged” by Mc­Connell’s com­ments.

Any im­mi­gra­tion deal reached by the Sen­ate would still need to be ap­proved by the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Mark Mead­ows, the head of the hard right Free­dom Cau­cus, threw cold wa­ter on the idea that any Sen­ate deal would bind the lower cham­ber. The North Carolina Repub­li­can told re­porters that Ryan had to un­der­stand “the will of his con­fer­ence and of the ma­jor­ity of the ma­jor­ity” should drive any vote on im­mi­gra­tion re­form

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