“House Democrats face choice over budget deal
By Tal Kopan, CNN
As lawmakers announced a budget deal that would address many of the issues stymieing Washington — with the key exception of immigration — House Democrats on Wednesday were feeling the heat.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi took to the House floor Wednesday to warn she would not support the burgeoning deal without a commitment from House Speaker Paul Ryan that the Republican-controlled House would hold a debate and vote on immigration legislation as his Senate counterpart Mitch McConnell has pledged, setting up a potential standoff.
The two-year deal that leadership announced on the Senate floor would set domestic and defense spending levels, push back the debt limit and resolve some outstanding issues Democrats have pushed for like support for community health centers and disaster relief money.
But left out of the deal would be a resolution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy that Trump is ending — and House Democrats have long been steadfast they would not support government funding without it.
The Senate is close, nevertheless, to sending the deal to the House with a continuing resolution that would fund the government into March, squeezing Democrats to risk rejecting a budget compromise over DACA alone, a position they have actively sought to avoid. Democratic votes in the House haven’t been necessary to pass continuing resolutions this year, but a number of House conservatives are expected to oppose the budget deal because of the domestic spending levels. That will force Democrats’ hand.
“The budget caps agreement includes many Democratic priorities,” Pelosi said in a statement. “This morning, we took a measure of our caucus because the package does nothing to advance bipartisan legislation to protect Dreamers in the House. Without a commitment from Speaker Ryan comparable to the commitment from Leader McConnell, this package does not have my support.”
Some Democrats were already backing up Pelosi as the deal was announced Wednesday afternoon.
California Rep. Eric Swallwell said while he supports a DACA fix, his concern was more about the size of the deal.
“I still have a real problem dramatically increasing the caps, adding to the deficit, when we just added $2 trillion for the tax plan. So if (Republicans) want to roll back their tax cuts so that we don’t have such a deep, deep deficit, I would be more receptive to that,” Swallwell said.
Congressional Hispanic Caucus member and California Democratic Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán said Democrats should not accept a funding deal without what they’ve asked for.
“No, I think that we aren’t using all the leverage we have and that’s a disappointment and I won’t support it,” she said. “We as a caucus have talked about making this one of our leverage points and using this as a leverage point. I hope that we continue to do that.”
But the objection wasn’t universal, and the mood in a House Democrat caucus meeting this morning that convinced Pelosi to speak on the floor was split, according to a Democrat in the meeting. Some were “understandably upset” about not including DACA recipients and there was “generally a lot of frustration.”
But others raised questions, asking, “What is our plan? What is our message? How are we going to win this?” After the last shutdown members are still unclear on the path forward and expect the Senate to pass this, leaving them little room. The source said there is a lot in the deal that many Democrats support, including the increase in domestic programs.
This source told CNN “a lot of people are going to vote for it. It’s not a situation where we can hold all our members.”
It’s unclear if Democratic leadership will whip against the bill. Asked Wednesday if leadership is instructing its members any particular way, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley demurred.
“People in our caucus will do what they think is in the best interests of their constituents and for the country,” Crowley said.
And Crowley didn’t commit to supporting or rejecting the deal.
“There is more to this deal than the issue of immigration,” he said, referencing the disaster relief money, in particular. “It is very complex. This There? is much more to this than simply one-off issues. And we’ll have to look at that in totality.”
Unlike recent past government funding deadlines, House Democrats have been holding their fire in pressuring their Senate colleagues to reject a deal that doesn’t address DACA. That has largely been because of McConnell’s promise to turn to a “fair” process on immigration after February 8, when the deadline comes.
“It’s hard, because we want them to be clear that this is reckless by the Republicans, but we are also clear that they want to keep the Senate and Congress moving so they have an opportunity, not just at getting a full year (funding) — stop doing (continuing resolutions) — but also to deal with other issues including DACA, by getting a vote on something,” said on Tuesday.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has been one of the loudest voices for rejecting funding without an immigration deal, even marching from the House side to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office in December to urge him to hold the line. That pressure isn’t there this time.
“I don’t sense any,” said Arizona Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva, a member of the caucus. But, he added, there’s “some trepidation” about the Senate process because of what could be added to a neutral bill — both in the Senate and the House.
“This has been the black hole for immigration, the House of Representatives, since I’ve been here, 15 years, and nothing comes out of here, and whatever goes to conference, if the House leadership has any say, it will get uglier,” Grijalva said.
But while Democrats were keeping their powder dry on a continuing resolution, as talk of the caps deal being near circulated, one Democratic House member said on condition of anonymity to discuss dynamics, that began to change. Tuesday night and Wednesday morning brought a flurry of communications between members, the lawmaker said.
“There is more support than yesterday on holding the line,” the member said Wednesday. “We shouldn’t negotiate the caps away without a DACA fix.”
CNN’s Phil Mattingly, Deirdre Walsh and Sunlen Serfaty contributed to this report.”
I can’t see any “Bipartisan Dreamer Bill” along the lines being discussed in the Senate that will be able to pass the House as long as the GOP is in charge and Paul Ryan is the Speaker.
I also don’t see a “House Dreamer Bill” passing. The “Goodlatte Bill” — favored by many in the GOP –is so miserly in its Dreamer protections and has so much of the Administration’s White Nationalist restrictionist agenda attached that all or almost all Democrats and probably a “good-sized chunk” of “moderate” Republicans are likely to be able to defeat it.
But, while the Democrats and the GOP moderates in the House might be able to come up with a more reasonable proposal that actually could pass, like the Hurd-Aguilar Bill, under the “Hastert Rule,” Speaker Ryan won’t bring it to the floor for a vote because the bill would rely on a majority of Democrats for passage.
Given the foregoing scenarios, I don’t see where forcing another shutdown gets the Democrats. With the GOP and the White House opposed to including a narrower “Dreamers-Border Security Only” (only two of Trump’s “four pillars”) in a Budget Agreement, there isn’t a feasible “end game” for the House Democrats. They could force a shutdown, but I don’t think they will be able to force the GOP to include Dreamer protection in a Budget deal. So, ultimately, they will have to “fold,” as has happened in the past.
So, what’s the best result I could see for the “Dreamers” right now: 1) eventually getting a “temporary extension” of DACA from Congress, or 2) an “indefinite hold” on DACA recision from the Federal Courts (which wouldn’t preclude the Administration from going through a “Notice and Comment” regulatory process to repeal DACA). Either of those would only help those who qualify for the current DACA program — not the “expanded DACA” group. Either way, permanent relief for the Dreamers is likely to require “regime change” at least at some level.