Brief Government Shutdown Ends With No Deal Reached On DACA
The government reopened early Friday morning, after a brief shutdown, as lawmakers in the House approved a spending bill that would keep the government funded until March 23. The bill, hailed as a bipartisan victory, did not however carry a solution for the 700,000 Dreamers threatened by deportation if no deal is reached by the May 5 deadline.
Early Friday morning after a brief five-and-a half-hour shutdown, the government reopened with a bill expected to keep it running until March 23. Both parties received something they had asked for in the bill. Republicans were able to allocate an extra $165 billion to the defense budget, and Democrats received funding for domestic programs such as education, medical technology research, infrastructure and disaster relief.
“This is a great victory for our men and women in uniform. Republicans and Democrats joined together to finally give our troops the resources and our generals the certainty to plan for the future,” said Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) shortly following the bills passage.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who helped craft the deal alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other House leaders, also saw the bills passage as a victory for Democrats.
“What makes Democrats proudest of this bill is that after a decade of cuts to programs that help the middle class, we have a dramatic reversal,” said Schumer. “Funding for education, infrastructure, fighting drug abuse, and medical research will all, for the first time in years, get very significant increases, and we have placed Washington on a path to deliver more help to the middle class in the future.”
However, the bill also drew sharp criticisms from both sides of the political spectrum. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) who was responsible for the delay of the vote which caused the government shutdown, took issue with an amendment he was not able to get a vote on that would have kept Congress under strict budget caps.
“We’re going to bring back Obama ere deficits,” Paul argued. “We have $20 trillion in debt. And we’re going to now add a trillion dollars to it this year because of this spending bill.”
“I’m not advocating for shutting down the government.” Paul said. “[But] I’m also not advocating for keeping the damn thing open and borrowing a million dollars a minute. This is reckless spending that is out of control. And the thing is, is, we think when Democrats are in charge, that the Republicans are the conservative party.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also took issue with the bill for not including a solution to the Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals program, commonly referred to as DACA.
On Thursday, during a two-hour Democratic Caucus meeting Pelosi attempted to unite Democratic lawmakers making a case for why they should vote ‘no’ on the upcoming vote.
“We have a moment. They don’t have the votes,” Pelosi said during the meeting on Thursday. Pelosi urged Democrats to use their leverage on the budget deal to extract a resolution from Ryan on the standoff over the status of the DACA program. However ultimately was unable to convince her colleagues otherwise.
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) a top Democrat on the Budget Committee, said that for him it came down to the number of votes in support of the bills passage already. “If Republicans had 70 votes and needed 140 from us, then there’s no pressure on us. If they have 170 and we can’t put up 40 to support a bipartisan bill coming from the Senate, then we get blamed for a shutdown,” he said.
Leading up to the vote House Speaker Ryan made rounds to lawmakers on both sides, reassuring Republicans of an increase in military spending and reaffirming to Democrats his commitment to finding a solution for Dreamers.
“I know that there is a real commitment to solving the DACA challenge in both political parties. That’s a commitment that I share,” said Ryan. “If anyone doubts my intention to solve this problem and bring up a DACA and immigration reform bill, do not. We will bring a solution to the floor, one the president will sign.”
The next budget vote will take place March 23 where lawmakers are expected to push a massive $1.3 trillion spending bill expected to fund the government until September 30.