Jan 22, 2018
The US authorities shut down edged closer to a resolution on Sunday night after a minor concession from the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who stated he’d allow a vote on legislation reform in February when Democrats agree to fund the government. However, one Democratic source cautioned that no deal had been reached.
The shutdown was spurred by the inability of Congress to achieve a deal to solve the status of “Dreamers” — undocumented migrants brought into the United States as children. They were protected from deportation before September 2017 when the Trump government ended the Daca program, which was created by Barack Obama.
Trump granted a two-year grace period for Congress to give Dreamers permanent legal status through legislation. However, with this dying in early March, Democrats, facing significant pressure from immigration advocates, had vowed not to fund the government until a deal has been reached.
McConnell’s suggestion would allow the Senate to debate and vote on an immigration deal if a broader bipartisan compromise wasn’t reached in the next three weeks.
Speaking on the ground, 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 medical insurance program named Chip that provides healthcare coverage to eight million children for six years.
Republicans had used Chip as leverage at the failed vote on Friday night to fund the government for four months. They ultimately wooed four Democrats to support the proposition to finance the government.
A hardline stance on immigration was 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.
But, four Republicans opposed the bill and it failed to get to the 60-vote supermajority required to avoid a filibuster in the Senate. Republicans had voiced concern with the government being funded by a series of short-term bills since September and what they thought was insufficient spending on defense.
Jeff Flake, a fervent anti-Trump conservative from Arizona, said he would encourage a three-week financing bill after opposing the four-week proposal on Friday. Additionally, Doug Jones, a Democrat from Alabama who was participating in the bipartisan talks, tweeted Sunday night that he had been “encouraged” by McConnell’s comments.
Any immigration arrangement 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 notion that any Senate deal would bind the lower chamber. The North Carolina Republican told colleagues that Ryan had to comprehend “the will of the summit and of the majority of the majority” should drive any vote on immigration reform.