Since President Trump announced that the clock is ticking on dealing with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a very clear dividing line has been drawn between Democrats and Republicans. House Democrats have stated that they will shut down the government in December when the “bumped” debt ceiling is reached unless significant protections are put in place for DREAMers.
The loose coalition of Democrats is being led by Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) who has expressed his anger at Democrat leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi for striking a deal with President Trump on Hurricane Harvey relief funds. At a Capitol Hill meeting with activists on Friday, he said:
“We will shut it down or let Republicans keep it open with their own votes,” Gutiérrez told the attendant Dreamers and activists who had gathered for the meeting. He and every other House Democrat had just voted for the funding package that included aid for Hurricane Harvey victims.
“The vast majority of members in the Democratic Caucus are ready to say, if there is no pathway forward” in relation to DREAMers “then there is no government for anyone,” he said.
The fact that Gutiérrez was more than willing to use disaster relief funds as a political football has angered both Republicans and Democrats (although the Democrats are stressing that they remain united). House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced that her party would do all it could to ensure that the DREAM Act was passed before this Congressional session expires. Her spokesman, Drew Hammill said “The Leader believes we can do this in September and it’s her top priority. Ninety Republicans refusing to vote for emergency Hurricane aid today gives us leverage and we plan to use it.”
It has unfortunately become all too common for House Democrats to threaten government shutdowns; just last week Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) suggested to a Caucus meeting that they should withhold their votes on the short-term funding bill until after a DACA deal was on the table.
Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman, Michelle Lujan Grisham, is seeking another approach to getting a deal on DACA. She is trying to use a discharge petition, which if successful could bring the matter to the floor within weeks. However, a discharge petition would require not only every single Democrat to get on board but also 24 Republicans.
As it stands, Democrats will have to make generous propositions to Republicans in order to pass a DACA act. However, some Democrats appear to be less inclined to deal than to hold government hostage.