Now that Congress has passed a budget deal to boost defense, increase spending gaps and lift the debt ceiling, Democrats are realizing they no longer can use a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as leverage against President Donald Trump.
The bipartisan spending bill was passed early Friday morning after a brief government shutdown overnight.
The new budget agreement includes $131 billion extra available for non-military spending, according to Reuters, which incorporates $90 billion for disaster aid for U.S. states and territories hit by hurricanes or wildfires last year.
The Democrats who voted against the bill disputed it because it didn’t provide a comprehensive plan for 800,000 illegal immigrants protected under DACA who were brought to the U.S. as children.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., pointed out that the Democrats “now have zero leverage on immigration,” according to the Washington Examiner.
The political party had used three leverage points for immigration in the past — budget caps, the debt ceiling and disaster aid — but those are no longer available after the new spending bill covered all three.
Gutierrez also said that the vote on implementing the new budget agreement next month does not provide much hope in using any form of leverage unless those who voted “yes” turned around and voted against the money being spent in that way.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi urged Democrats to oppose the new spending bill because it didn’t provide a resolution for thousands of “dreamers”, Politico reported.
Trump has given Congress a deadline of March 5 to pass new legislation for the DACA program.
Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., joined Pelosi’s opposition of the vote, according to the Washington Examiner.
“We have to be realistic, if this passes and there’s no guarantee of a Dream Act vote, then we’re going to have to deal with the reality that we have to find whatever means possible to put pressure on Speaker Ryan and the Republican Party to bring a fair vote on the Dream Act to the floor,” Gallego said before the vote.
Despite the lack of a DACA resolution, 73 Democrats still voted to pass the spending bill.
House Speaker Paul Ryan promised on Thursday that the House “will solve this DACA problem.”
“We still have the most important leverage points, and that’s the humanity of this issue,” Rep. Raul Grijalva said. “Instead of worrying about what legislative angle we have let’s now concentrate on making this a campaign that is both political and zeroed in on Ryan.”
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi added that the March 5 deadline “is coming up really fast.”
“I’m not hearing enough in the way of the president saying we’re going to delay this deadline. He’s leaving that very open, which means he wants to leave them exposed and in jeopardy.”
According to Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley, the fate of the DACA recipients lies with the public’s opinion.
“Well, I think we have the moral ‘suasion of the American people,” he said. “I think it’s moral ‘suasion at this point. Speaker said that we’ll move on something, I don’t know what that is.”
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